Digital Fair Use Bill Introduced to US House (Ars Technica)

Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and John Doolittle (R-Ca.) have announced a new House bill that would amend the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to permit greater "fair use" of copyrighted material. However, the bill does not allow consumers to make personal use copies of encrypted material such as DVDs and online music files. Analysts say the Freedom and Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship Act of 2007 (FAIR USE Act) is basically a weakened version of Boucher's DMCRA, which failed to pass in two sessions of Congress and was vehemently opposed by the content industry. The DMCRA would have legalized any "fair use" of digital goods, regardless of anti-circumvention laws, but the FAIR USE Act does not provide for this. The FAIR USE Act would add several exemptions to anti-circumvention rules, including allowances for some obsolete technologies and cell phone unlocking. Current exemptions provide for the circumvention of anti-copyright technology for the use of software that requires the original disk or hardware in order to operate and dongle-protected programs, so long as the dongle no longer functions and a replacement cannot be found. The bill would also impose limits on statutory damages resulting from infringement and indirect infringement, laws that would appease technology companies concerned by MGM v. Grokster.

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