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S. 1284 To Amend (C) Act
The 9/28/95 Congression Report states that Senators Hatch and Leahy
have introduced a bill to amend the Copyright Act in accord with the
suggestions of the recent White Paper on the National Information
Infrastructure. In relevant part, S. 1284: 1) makes transmission of copies a
type of publication (and thus potentially a means of infringing a
copyright); and 2) prohibits the importation, manufacture, or
distribution of any device the primary purpose of which is to
deactivate any technological protections that prevent or inhibit the
violation of copyrights.
Though I can imagine cypherpunks objecting to the first of these two
provisions, I'm especially interested in how you regard the
second. Imagine that Microsoft devised a program to prevent
unauthorized copying of its software, and that you (perhaps in
response to another of Sameer's contests!) wrote a program to
counteract it. It looks as the proposed law would forbid your
counter-programming. Bob would thus find it easier to sell defective
copyright protection devices.
I'm thinking of writing an article about the White Paper and S. 1284,
arguing that cypherpunks render a valuable public service in finding
gaps in copyright protection, and that they therefore ought not be
forbidden from pursuing their research. I invite you to email me privately if
you have a strong opinion about the proposed changes to the Copyright
Act. I've attached a copy of the proposed s1201 below.
In a related vein, Senators Leahy and Feingold have introduced S.
1122, which criminalizes willful infringements that do not have the
purpose of commercial gain. This aims to close a percieved loophole
under the current law, by which LaMacchia was able to distribute
S. 1284, s1201: "No person shall import, manufacture or distribute
any device, product, or component incorporated into a device or
product, or offer or perform any service, the primary purpose or
effect of which is to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or otherwise
circumvent, without the authority of the copyright owner or the law,
any process, treatement, mechanism or system which prevents or
inhibits the violation of any of the exclusive rights of the
copyright owner under section 106."
Tom W. Bell
Law and Technology Program
UD Law School
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