Today, the CATO Institute held a half-day conference entitled “Copyright Controversies: Freedom, Property, Content Creation, and the DMCA,” that over three panels, turned out to be a fairly good of the issues–from both sides of the argument.
You can learn about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, here.
Rep. Lamar Smith, Chairman of the Intellectual Property Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, started off the discussion talking about how his district is a good balance of innovators and creators. He thought that the cases involving garage door openers and printer cartridges were the exceptions to the rule which could be solved with an adjustment to tort reform.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren said that the DCMA has not been effective, because the content industry says that digital piracy persists and continues to ask for greater copyright protections. She has proposed her own bill, the BALANCE ACT and supports Rep. Rick Boucher's HR 1201 to allow for innovation and fair use under the DMCA.
David Levine presented a great economic analysis of copyright, who talked about how historically, you don't need copyright to produce incentives.
Gregory Lastowka discussed his paper entitled “Amateur-to-Amateur: The Rise of a New Creative Culture,” which looked at the issue of copyright from an out-of-the-box point of view. He came at it from the viewpoint that the internet is a communications medium and that copyright dilutes the ability to communicate. On that same panel, Michael Masnick of TechDirt.com questioned why folks like Patrick Ross looked the internet as a way to dilute copyrights. Ross and Masnick argued about whether or not Ross' organization, the Progress and Freedom Foundation, was promoting copyright industry ideals because of their funders.
The final panel was probably the most lively. Tim Lee of the Show-Me Institute, discussed his paper, which caused today's debate, entitled “Circumventing Competition: The Perverse Consequences of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.” Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Electronics Association, as always, did a great job exposing the practical pitfalls that the DMCA creates for innovators and creators. Those two contrasted with Solveig Singleton and Emery Simon who said that, although the DMCA was imperfect, that it's needed to allow the content industry (which includes software industry) to innovate and protect their digital content.