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EUCD - Copyright extensions that harm

In December 1996 in Geneve the WIPO Copyright Treaty was signed by several by most, if not all, developed countries. By signing this treaty these countries compromised themselves to give away the right to use a copyrighted work in favour of protection of electronic protections, independently of their effectiveness.

Today we are starting to see the effects of this kind of legislation. The american Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD) pass the WIPO treaty into effective law. This page is about the effects of this kind of legislation and related resources.

The risks of this kind of legislation are:

  • Monopolies on file formats - This is the issue that is worrying libraries. The ability to effectively control a file format means that each e-book format will have its own reader and it will only be readable by that company's reader. Maintaining access to all he different kinds of readers throughout decades needs the kind of personnel and technological ability that libraries can't afford right now, not to mention the cost of e-book readers that they'll need to have to give access to the library's users.
  • Interoperability - If you can't use and share tools to analyze protocols, because they can be used to circumvent ineffective technological measures, then it's not possible to create put two systems working together unless both vendors publish information on the protocols they use. Knowing the trend of proprietary software vendors to trap a client in its systems, this is not a ralistic cenario.
  • Insecurity - In the last years the full disclosure movement has made considerable improvements on the whole security of computer systems. This was done by forcing vendors to correct the vulnerabilities through the publishing of vulnerabilities even if they weren't corrected in a limited timeframe. To avoid a image problem most vendors started correcting in days what used to take months or even years to do. With this legislation a vulnerability that allows the circumvention of rights-management information cannot be even communicated. This means that full disclosure is not an option, and that we all loose its advantages.
  • Freedom of Speech - By allowing copyright owners to define terms of use and protecting all measures taken by those owners to enforce those terms of use can limit rights as basic as freedom of speech. The most recent example is Microsoft Frontpage 2002's latest End-User License Agreement (EULA) that prohibits the usage of the software to create sites that criticize Microsoft or any of its subsidiaries.

Legislation

The pieces of legislation that follow the letter of the WIPO Copyright Treaty are:

Legislation Analysis

This legislation as already been analyzed by law professors, experts and others. Following is a sample of those analysis:

Organizations against Copyright Extensions

Some organizations have understood the impact of this kind of legislation and have made statements about it: