Sun, May 18 2008 1:42 AM aheram

Ten Laws You Might Be Violating Right Now

TechRepublic has a list up of ten laws people could be violating right now as they sit in front of their computers and access the internet. Interestingly enough, half of the list pertains to intellectual property. The travesty that is the DMCA tops the list at number one:

#1: Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
Most computer users have heard of this law, which was signed in 1998 by President Clinton, implementing two World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties. The DMCA makes it a criminal offense to circumvent any kind of technological copy protection — even if you don’t violate anyone’s copyright in doing so.
In other words, simply disabling the copy protection is a federal crime. There are some exemptions, such as circumventing copy protection of programs that are in an obsolete format for the purpose of archiving or preservation. But in most cases, using any sort of anti-DRM program is illegal. This applies to all sorts of copy-protected files, including music, movies, and software. You can read a summary of the DMCA here.
If you’re a techie who likes the challenge of trying to “crack DRM,” be aware that doing so — even if you don’t make or distribute illegal copies of the copyrighted material — is against the law.

The DMCA as a law infringes on an individual's private property rights by making it illegal for the individual to tinker with his own electronic devices. How terrible is it that the mere potentiality of copyright infringement is grounds for legal action.

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