13 votes

Reevaluating the DMCA 22 years later: let’s think of the users

1 comment

  1. vord
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    While none of what I'm about to layout is inherently new, I think it's worth discussing the problems of DMCA section 1201 further, in particular surrounding this point: This is the understatement...

    While none of what I'm about to layout is inherently new, I think it's worth discussing the problems of DMCA section 1201 further, in particular surrounding this point:

    In practice, the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions have done little to stop "Internet piracy.” Instead, they’ve been a major roadblock to security research, fair use, and repair and tinkering.

    This is the understatement of the century. In the 22 years since the DMCA's passage, the only significant progress against piracy has been for video games. I would contend the DMCA and DRM wasn't the main factor in this effectiveness. User-hostile approaches like elimination of player-hosted servers and requiring persistent internet connections for single player games were far more effective. Players like myself (even if we're a minority) simply stopped playing these games.

    Not one DRM scheme developed in over 22 years for music, tv, film, or books has reasonably accomplished the goal of reducing or even slowing the illegal distribution of copyrighted content.

    The only way piracy was ever truly mitigated was providing easier to use services. Netflix streaming, Steam, and Spotify/GPM/Apple Music all decimated piracy numbers. But the pendulum is starting to swing back in the other direction. Content owners are rapidly siloing off their content, each trying to grab a bigger slice of the pie, but in doing so are reducing the simplicity that made these services a better alternative to piracy.

    At the same time, piracy has become progressively easier... it is now possible for a moderately technical user to create a pirate media center in a few hours that's no more complicated than Netflix for non-technical users to use. With a touch of extra effort, one could make these for others with an installation process no more complicated than connecting a Chromecast (connect to electricity, internet, and tv). This media center provides access to a virtually unlimited, high-quality media library with none of the downsides like platform fragmentation, auto-playing (or stopping) content, or advertising.

    This lack of awareness is hurting the industry long term, because if piracy continues to get easier to use and harder to shutdown, while legal services continue to become more expensive and harder to use, there will be a tipping point where piracy becomes unstoppable.

    6 votes