Thursday, May 03, 2007

Digg user-submitted news website in controversy over DMCA


Brad Stone has an important story about enforcement of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) in The New York Times today, May 3, 2007, on p. 1. “In Web Uproarm Antipiracy Code Spreads Wildly.” The link is here. (Content may require subscription or purchase once archived.)

The story concerns posting of a 32-digit code used in copy protection for Blu-ray and HD DVD digital video discs of movies. Apparently this got posted on a number of sites, whose owners received cease-and-desist notices. (Their ISP’s could perhaps have done take-downs under the safe-harbor provision.) One such example of a cease-and-desist was posted on Chilling Effects, here.

Digg.com, a site that provides news links provided by users, also took down one or more links around May 1 after legal pressure. Caroline McCarty has a CNET story “Digg in Tough Spot with DMCA Debacle”, link here. Both Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson, from the company, posted brief explanations of the actions on the Digg corporate blogs. (Links: 1 and 2) What is disturbing is that linking to a site with infringement could be illegal, because generally that has not been considered infringement in itself. However, Digg has other terms of service provisions that prohibit links to various other kinds of illegal content.

As far as I know, I have not myself linked to any file providing an illegal hacking code, but there is no way for me to know for sure; I can only have “good faith.”

I have discussed the DMCA previously on this blog and on my other sites.

Since I have screenplays and movie treatments that I want to sell, I certainly understand the need for the motion picture industry to protect its copyrights, as its ability to do so affects jobs and funding for new projects. On the other hand, I would not want possible downstream liability concerns to interfere with artists offering their content for free or greatly raising manufacturing costs for video devices or, particularly, interfering with innovations that could help novice and low-$$$ filmmakers.

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