Copyrights and Copywrongs

This looks interesting: The New York Times reports that RealNetworks is squaring off against the recording industry on copyrights and digital media. Read the full story here. The proximate issue, as the lawyers say, would seem to be, “What constitutes ‘fair use’?”

An excerpt:

    The Seattle-based company is accusing the studios and the (DVD Copy Control) association of violating antitrust law by illegally colluding to stop consumers from making “fair use” copies of their DVDs and to prevent competing DD products from hitting the market. The association manages the technical specifications and security features of DVD discs.

I do not favor digital piracy and won’t let any kind of music or video near any of my computers, nor am I a fan of RealNetworks, because of the way they plant hidden software on users’ computers (think “RealAgent.exe“), but individual consumers do not generally have the resources to fight back against the industry.

Whether or not they have actually done anything illegal, individuals tend just to fold when the recording industry, usually via the RIAA, comes after them.

Furthermore, the industry’s tactics pretty much amount to trying to dam the Pacific Ocean. That battle is already lost. But they are unlikely to catch up with the times without some incentive to be creative.

It is good to see someone with resources in the fray, because it might lead to some clarity in the case law and some creativity in digital copyright protection practices.

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