Artists Speak Out Against 'Fair Use' Restriction On Digital Media

Grateful Dead lyricist, John Perry Barlow, is speaking out against restrictions on personal use of electronic media. Reuters News is reporting that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), which was enacted to protect the intellectual rights of content creators and property rights of content distributors, is meeting some opposition. Several groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, oppose the DMCA, saying that it infringes on the personal rights individuals have for the fair use of content.

The DMCA has strong backing from many corporations that provide electronic content. From the Reuters article:

Enacted in 1998, the law prohibits creating or distributing technology that can be used to circumvent copyright protections.

Movie studios, record labels and software companies support the law, arguing that tight restrictions are needed to stop people from using the Internet to freely swap intellectual property they should be paying for.

At a conference on security, John Perry Barlow spoke out against the DMCA. From the Reuters article:

"It sucks," Barlow said when asked to summarize what he thinks of the law. "Itis unconstitutional."

Not only does the law curtail individual rights to free speech, he said, but by limiting the exchange of ideas for the sake of corporate profits, it is also culturally damaging.

"Society has certain rights, (like) the right to know that supersedes the rights of content distributors," Barlow said.

There are several cases where the two side square off, the most prominent of which is currently one involving the Russian software company, ElcomSoft Co. Ltd., which sold software that allowed proprietary e-books using Adobe software to be downloaded to computers to be read aloud. The case is seen as a prime example of ifair usei versus the intellectual rights of the content creators.