Since earlier this summer, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is putting out the equivalent of a red alert about some language that it says has been snuck into an obscure copyright bill -- language that the EFF says could smash Internet fair use. According to the warning:
The entertainment industry has sneaked language into an obscure copyright bill that could smash Internet fair use. The law implies that licenses from copyright holders are needed for every digital copy made in the transmission of digital media -- including cached copies on servers or on your hard drive, and even temporary copies in RAM. The bill is headed for a key vote in the House Judiciary committee in the next two weeks. Don't let the music industry turn your cache into their cash.
A posting on the EFF Web site goes into a bit more detail about the problematic wording in the bill known as S1RA:
The bill suggests that even RAM buffer copies must be licensed. But incidental copies made in the course of otherwise lawful activities should be treated either as outside the scope of a copyright holder's rights or as a fair use (even the Copyright Office agrees on the fair use point). So while the music services get the licenses they need, this creates a dangerous precedent in the Copyright Act that will come back to haunt other digital technologies that depend on incidental copies -- now the implication will be that every one of those needs a license, too. After all, Google has already faced a lawsuit from Perfect 10 claiming that browser cache copies are infringing unless authorized by the copyright owner.
The EFF home page has a giant image/link that drives you straight to the page where you can take action (like, contact your lawmaker). Unfortunately, that page's built-in congressperson finder wasn't working for me when I last paid a visit.