You know Cory Doctorow, and perhaps you’re following him on social media, or you’re following his blog. I do. Today, he’s commenting on how the Digital Milenium Copyright Act (DMCA) has been used to develop Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) which is being used to take away the rights you used to have by abusing section 1201 which it a felony to help people tamper with “access controls” that restrict copyrighted works.
Importantly, it doesn’t matter how simplistic the access control is. No matter how simple it is, if you enable people to tamper with it, you are committing a felony. Doctorow gives a few examples, and you probably experienced some yourself. I liked this one:
DMCA 1201 is how Apple and John Deere make it a felony for anyone except them to fix their products. They just design their devices so that after the repair is complete, you need an unlock code to get the system to recognize new parts. Bypassing the unlock code defeats an “access control” and is thus a literal crime.
Copyright is being abused and it needs reform. And not just in the USA: sadly, the US projects so much power both as a state and a collection of corporations, that other countries simply followed suit.
This is why Switzerland has article 39a in it’s copyright act. Paragraph 1 says that “effective technological measures for the protection of works and other protected subject-matter may not be circumvented.”
Paragraph 2 defines what these technical measures might be and paragraph 3 says that it is illegal “to manufacture, import, offer, transfer or otherwise distribute, rent, give for use, and advertise or possess for commercial purposes devices, products or components, or provide services” that enable “the circumvention of effective technological measures”.
Now here’s the kicker: Switzerland limits copyright in specific ways. For example, I can make copies of protected works for myself or my close friends and family. It is my right to this, but I can’t get the tools to do this because the tools cannot be given to me, as explained above.
That’s why I hate the copyright industry. These are the laws they have given us. And Switzerland is about to reform it, but not in a good way.