Intellectual property, especially copyright and patents, is purely fictitious, a construction of the State. Stephan Kinsella has definitively proved such in his paper Against Intellectual Property.

Nevertheless, the US government continues to prop up this inefficient and unethical practice. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, many lives have been ruined by the bad side of corps, full of lawyers hunting for cash. We all know of the old ladies and teenagers who receive verdicts requiring them to pay obscene amounts of money for such non-crimes.

Well, some new rules coming straight from the Library of Congress are sure to help alleviate a few of these problems. Essentially, the Librarian of Congress must evaluate exemptions to the DMCA every 3 years, i.e. you cannot be prosecuted, period, if you do these things. Previously, there had only been one exemption recognized. Now, there are SIX exemptions, and the first three are quite significant.

The basics of each exemption:
1) You can rip your own DVDs. You can remix scenes for noncommercial use. So all those Hitler-plus-caption remixes from the movie Downfall no longer can be taken down. Teachers who want to use a movie in a class can rip it. No one from the DMCA can touch you.
2) You can jailbreak your phone, nobody can prosecute you. Big swipe at Apple/AT&T.
3) You can use software to unlock your phone for use on a different network.
4) You can use software to crack game SecuROMs or other game DRM for the purpose of “investigation” or research. The language is very broad, since even curiosity can prompt “investigation.”
5) You can use cracks to bypass a hardware dongle. This is significant for people like me who use lab equipment or any variety of peripherals with stupid dongles.
6) You can crack DRM encrypted ebooks to use text-to-speech capabilities. Convenient.

Gizmodo has a more thorough analysis here.

These new rules surely do not go far enough, but thankfully things are not becoming more restrictive in this arena. But we need to continue pushing back, so keep spreading the word!

Dr. Norman Horn

Norman founded and the Libertarian Christian Institute, and currently serves as its President and Editor-in-Chief. He holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from the Austin Graduate School of Theology. He currently is a Postdoctoral researcher in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Cool. Thanks for the update.

    I had a random thought about copyright a few days ago.

    You've probably heard it said: You don't write a book to become famous. You become famous and then you write (i.e. publish) a book.

    The U.S. Constitution grants copyright authority to Congress to propogate/protect/encourage the arts.

    You've heard it said that artists/writers need copyright protection. Without such protection, obviously, there'd be tons and tons of brilliant, necessary, helpful, and downright “the-world-would-be-a-worse-place-without-these” writings, etc., that would not exist. (Oh, sad world!)

    What copyright protection did Shakespeare have? Bach?

    How worse off would the world be without the plethora of books by famous idiots whose books are only published because they're famous? What of the millions of us “writers” who write billions of books without a hope of making a dime off them, copyright protection or no? Does the genius stop writing because his genius won't result in quite as much money?

  • Jaired, I think you're definitely on the right track here. What copyright does, essentially, is to legislate monopolistic pricing of ideas-as-property. But the problem is that ideas are *not* property. Property can only be applied on something that is scarce.

    You really should read Stephan's paper, he's a lawyer you know. You'd get along well with him, hehe.

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