Billington opens new DMCA loopholes

Billington opens new DMCA loopholes

Summary: James Billington may be the most important person you never heard of, having headed the Library of Congress since well before the Web was spun or the DMCA was even a glint in the RIAA's eye.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Mobility
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You can freely jailbreak your iPhone to add apps. Kindles should be able to use their text-to-speech function. If you want to rip a DVD for your latest YouTube masterpiece, go ahead.

All these new rights come to you via a statement from the Librarian of Congress, dated Friday, executing his once-every-three years review of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) and its anti-circumvention provisions, under what is known as Section 1201(a)(1) of the copyright code.

Who is this wizard who can, with the wave of a mouse, grant wishes which a host of lawyers cannot grant?

He's James Billington, 81, and he was appointed to his post in 1987, by President Ronald Reagan. A Russian scholar, formerly director of the Woodrow Wilson Center, shown here getting the Presidential Citizens Medal from George W. Bush in 2007, courtesy the Library of Congress.

Just in case you thought he was some kind of hippie.

James Billington may be the most important person you never heard of, having headed the library since well before the Web was spun or the DMCA was even a glint in the RIAA's eye.

His record as Librarian of Congress (LOC) is nothing short of awesome. He has championed the American Memory National Digital Library, opening up 8.5 million artifacts to online inspection. The library's online resources include Thomas, the congressional database, an online card catalog, and the America's Library web site.

It was probably Billington's unassailable reputation for integrity and probity that won the LOC this power under the DMCA. His role is a compromise between industry demands that all efforts at circumventing copyright be forbidden, regardless of motive, and those who believe in fair use.

Essentially the LOC defines the evolving terms of fair use in terms of digital copyright, reporting his findings every three years and acting as judge and jury over changing technology.

Now that the copyright industries recognize the power the LOC has, of course, expect a huge fight over the position whenever Dr. Billington does choose to step aside.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility

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6 comments
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  • RE: Billington opens new DMCA loopholes

    It's too bad the government of Canada isn't putting something similar into its new copyright law. We could use a James Billington.
    mheartwood
    • RE: Billington opens new DMCA loopholes

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  • RE: Billington opens new DMCA loopholes

    I believe in fair use!
    rl.forbes@...
  • RE: Billington opens new DMCA loopholes

    Dana,<br>Does this mean that we can make copies of our legally purchased DVDs'? Is item iii referring to home movies or commercial movies for non commercial purposes?<br><br><a href="http://www.copyright.gov/1201/2010/Librarian-of-Congress-1201-Statement.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.copyright.gov/1201/2010/Librarian-of-Congress-1201-Statement.html</a><br><br>(1) Motion pictures on DVDs that are lawfully made and acquired and that are protected by the Content Scrambling System when circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment, and where the person engaging in circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that circumvention is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the use in the following instances:<br><br>(i) Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students;<br><br>(ii) Documentary filmmaking;<br>(iii) Noncommercial videos
    riverab@...
    • RE: Billington opens new DMCA loopholes

      @riverab@... <br><br>no, it doesn't, unfortunately <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/sad.gif" alt="sad"><br><br>item iii refers to videos produced for publication that are not intended to make any profit, and as item iii is a subset of (1), it still only refers to "short portions"
      erik.soderquist
  • RE: Billington opens new DMCA loopholes

    The last few months have been one giant headache for cell phone manufacturers and service providers and one giant victory for consumers. On June 15, San Francisco passed a city ordinance requiring all cell phone retailers to display in the store the rate (SAR) at which their phones? radiation is absorbed into the body. A month later, the Federal Communications Commission and the Wireless Assocation, a coalitition of service providers, began a blog war over the FCC?s May ?bill shock? research. Finally, Monday marked an equally unpleasant rule making decision by the Library of Congress, which enables cell phone users to ?unlock? their phones for use on other networks.

    While it is unclear exactly how the situation in San Francisco will resolve it itself in the future, whether the bill shock issue will be readdressed by the CTIA, or the future scope of the Copyright Office?s final rule, one thing is clear. Consumers are ending up on the winning side of these decisions, and judging from industry press releases, it is not happy about it.

    Read More: http://bit.ly/cxAsnW
    mlschafer7