More DMCA Madness

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A Mod-Chip site got closed down yesterday, and the person running it faces up to five years in prison - plus the U.S. Government has seized the domain name.

This is another example of why the DMCA and media companies attempting to over control the use of their products through over-reaching laws is a very bad idea.

The argument on the part of the law and the media companies (or in this casae actually video game hardware manufacturers) is the this site did two things - one it provided a forum in which people could discuss methods of circumventing copy-protection, and it sold Mod-Chips - add-ons that allow user to play both copied and imported video games on a system.

And they have a point. Copying games that you do not own is wrong, and bad and nobody should do it. If you do do it, you should be fined, go to jail, whatever depending on the scope of your copying.

BUT, and this is a very big but, it should not be against the law to have a site that allows discussions about copying, nor should it be illegal to sell devices that circumvent copy protection. Why? Because there are perfectly valid reasons to do both.

When I had a Playstation I had a mod-chip installed in it. How many games did I copy? None. Not a one. I used it to play games that I had imported from Japan - games that were not playable on the U.S. Playstation, and that were never going to come out in U.S. versions because they were "too japanese" for the American market.

Right now I have a technically illegal DVD player that allows me to play both U.S. and Japanese DVDs. Why? Because there are movies that are only avialable in Japan that I want to see, and because generally I prefer both the English subtitling and the English dubbing that is on the Japanese releases to the "Americanized" version taht come out here. I'm not copying anything, not am I stealing anything from anybody - I'm actually spending more than I would otherwise - but I am also breaking the law.

Until the DCMA was passed, a consumer had the right to make a back-up copy of a piece of software that he had purchased, or to buy a piece of electronics hardware, open it up, and do whatever they want to it, though they might void the warrenty.

Not so anymore. Now the manufacturer of the hardware is able to dicate what you are allowed to with it, and the maker of a piece of software is allowed to tell you who and when you are allowed to use it.

We need to carefully examine what media companies are trying to do and question it. Our government doesn't seem to be very concerned with consumer rights - instead they seem to be bending over backwards to allow corporations to decide how we will be allowed to use the products we have purchased.

This has to stop. We need to punish people who are copying software and not outlaw legitimate discussion and uses of technology. Entrenched corporations have never understood the new opportunites provided by technology and have always tried to stop them and control consumers. The media companies said the VCR would put them out of business - now it's where they make most of their money. Are these the people we want making these decisions?

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This page contains a single entry by edgore published on February 28, 2003 6:14 PM.

Everything Is All Screwed Up was the previous entry in this blog.

DVD-Making Software Really Sucks is the next entry in this blog.

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