Another awful story about a company abusing the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.
Skylink Technologies manufactures a universal garage door opener that can be used to open and shut any type of garage door. Its competitor, the Chamberlain Group, claims that Skylink violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, by selling such a product.
I tend to like this argument when it comes to sharing music:
“Isn’t is equivalent to my leaving the door to my library open?” Roberts asked. “Somebody could come in and copy my books but that doesn’t mean I’m liable for copyright infringement.”
Although, if you were to take it to it’s logical conclusion, there really isn’t any difference between sharing music on your personal PC and putting it up on a dedicated web server (one’s just a better-equipped “library”). Although it’s more convenient to go after those that share the music, assuming they purchased it themselves, the only real copyright violators are the downloaders. Tracking the downloaders is a fairly difficult thing to do without privacy-infringing policy like the DCMA.
So, what’s the solution? Well, there are a lot of laws that are difficult to enforce because of privacy concerns. There are a lot of laws that are difficult to enforce in general (for example, measuring the safe travelling distance between two vehicles on the highway). That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be laws, and that doesn’t mean we should compromise other laws (or constitutional protections) in order to make them easier to enforce.
What I’d really love to see happen is an artist stand up and say “I will not create any more music until music piracy decreases substantially.” That’s the real way to solve this problem. If copyright law seeks to ensure individuals will continue to produce without having their output ripped off, then we should reach the point when an artist will stop producing. Since we’re nowhere near that point from what I can tell, the “rampant piracy” is not bad enough to concern me.
If people want to steal music even though it is illegal, it will kill the very music they love. If the RIAA keeps fighting the battles the way they have been (by influencing questionable legislation) mainstream people will never realize this connection, and will continue to view the recording industry in an unfavorable light – as a bunch of “greedy businessmen.” If consumers want to kill the music industry, I say let them try. We’ll see how they like the outcome. Or, more to the point, we’ll see how long it takes before they realize what they’ve done, and see that there’s no one left to steal from.