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crypto and public policy

WIPO: when bad intellectual property law goes worse

Filed under: Policy — June 9, 2004 @ 6:30 pm

WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, is currently debating a new treaty to protect broadcasters of content. Sounds like a good idea, right?

Here’s what the treaty would do, among other things:

  • make computers as we know them illegal, because they might be used to copy protected content.
  • suddenly give broadcasters control over content in the public domain (meaning, free to everyone for any use) as soon as they broadcast this content.
  • give broadcasters complete, fine-grained control over the content they broadcast: if Clear Channel doesn’t want you recording a radio program for later, personal use (say, because you’re busy at the time of the broadcast), they can physically prevent your recording device from doing so. And if you get a device that lets you ignore the Clear Channel order, even for completely personal, non-commercial use, you’re doing something illegal and so is the manufacturer of the device. Think of it as VCR = illegal.

Is this the kind of society we want? One of absolute control, one of ask-for-permission? I hope not.

Two organizations are working to prevent this absolute catastrophy: the EFF and the Union for the Public Domain. Check them out.

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