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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
copyrighted works.

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
Assistant Professor 
Law and Technology Program
UD Law School
[email protected]

PGP fingerprint:
78 06 76 AC 32 38 A6 4C  B3 81 F4 1E 2E 27 AC 71