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5 years ago...Clinton signs internet copyright protection act

...and then the big can of worms was opened...
Written by silicon.com staff, Contributor

...and then the big can of worms was opened...

29.10.98: President Clinton yesterday dealt a blow to internet piracy by signing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act into law. The Act aims to protect copyrighted software, music and text on the internet by outlawing the technology used to break copyright protection devices.

The legislation will come into effect in 18 months.

Taylor Johnson Garrett solicitor Kiran Sandford feels that going after the technology rather than the individual user is a good way to go about copyright protection.

"We haven't got anything in the UK which specifically tackles this kind of technology," she said. "But the act is territorial. If it's a US act, it's difficult to enforce outside of the country."

Sandford reckoned the US needs the law more urgently than Europe: "A lot of Internet use and abuse does go on in the US." She added that there is a European green paper in the works on the issue.

Opponents of the law say it violates current "fair use" rights that allow users to copy information for legitimate, educational purposes.

29.10.03: Almost exactly five years later DMCA claimed its first victim when a Florida jury convicted a man of violating the Act by selling hardware that could access satellite TV broadcasts without paying for them.

This was after the high-profile acquittal last year of Dmitri Sklyarov, who was charged under the DMCA after describing his company's software for decrypting Adobe's eBooks software to attendees of the Defcon security conference.

More recently the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been using DMCA subpoenas to force US internet service providers to give up the names and addresses of subscribers suspected of downloading and distributing illegally copied music on the internet.

And while Europe doesn't yet have its own DMCA there is a row going on in Brussels over a proposed equivalent, with the music industry wanting it beefed up and opponents claiming it will destroy competition. A final vote on the bill is expected on 4 November.

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