Members of Congress are showing a reluctance to tackle copyright laws and the sticky issue of “fair use” of content, CNET News reported.
Fair use is a legal concept that allows the free reproduction of copyright-protected works for noncommercial purposes such as teaching, news reporting, criticism and research. However, in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA), a controversial law that broadly prohibits cracking copy-protection technology, fair use is not mentioned.
This omission, critics of the law say, restricts the right of the public to use protected works in ways standard fair use rights would otherwise permit. The entertainment industry wants the law kept as is.
In an effort to build fair use into the DMCA, several members of Congress have introduced the Digital Media Consumers’ Rights Act. The bill was introduced by Rep. Rick Boucher, (D-Va.) and supported by Rep. Joe Barton, (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
There is strong opposition to changing the law. One of the opponents, Rep. Cliff Stearns, (R-Fla.) expressed concern that any law allowing circumvention of copy-protection devices would undercut the purpose of the DMCA and could be exploited by criminals looking to pirate works.