John Walker's Electronic House

CW 177

Copyright Watch 177

A busy month for watching copyright. John Walker rounds things up.

First off, a massive CW handshake of approval goes to the French courts, who have ruled that the DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) on DVDs violates a consumer’s basic rights, and have legislated that anti-copying software must be removed from the discs. The right to make private copies has always been in law, as it is in the UK, but the untested and corrupt Digital Millennium Copyright Act prevents this legal right from being executed. This blatent contradiction demonstrates the ass-like nature of the DMCA, and the French have tugged at the first loose thread.

It’s been a sad month for BitTorrenting. TV torrent sites have become the very best way to catch the programme you missed last night, the programme that would have arrived free to your television anyway, the programme you could have taped off the telly yourself. But somehow, despite this, such evils must be stopped, and injunctions have been taken out against the best and most helpful of the torrent sites. We won’t name them, as all that remains on the internet are the leeches who immediately snapped up the URLs to advertise their dodgy wares. Clearly such actions are driven by the new-found profit source of releasing your TV series on DVD the moment its run comes to an end. (Or indeed during it, BBC. Cunning, eh? Selling us the programmes we already paid for in the first place. How they must laugh).

Finally, in more positive news, the American appeals court has prevented the terrifying prospect of digital TVs coming fitted with a device to control what programming can be recorded. Brilliantly, the ruling came with a very direct snub against the ludicrous behaviour of the FCC. “We can find nothing in the statute, its legislative history, the applicable case law, or agency practice indicating that Congress meant to provide the sweeping authority the FCC now claims over receiver apparatus.” Perhaps their unlawful reign will soon come to an end.