The Effects Of The Digital Millennium Copyright Act Of 1998

1432 words - 6 pages

The Effects of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998


The verb copy is defined as “To reproduce an original.” (Webster, 57-58) This idea of copying has been around for hundreds of years. In the current time, laws have had to be written to protect against the idea of copying someone else’s work. There are ways around the copyright laws. “A copy is in violation of a copyright if the original can be “perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated by or from the copy, directly or indirectly.” As years go on, copyrights become more and more specific as to what uses and kinds of copying are covered. (Baase, 239)

Copyrights, in general, have been around for well over 200 years. “The first U.S. copyright law was passed in 1790. This copyright only protected books, maps, and charts. The copyright law of 1790 was later revised, covering photography, sound recording and movies.” (Baase, 239) Back then, that was their version of new technology where as today, if that copyright was all we had, no one would have an original of anything and no one would probably make nearly as much profit as they do now with new copyright laws that have been passed to protect the new up to date technology. Some examples of copyrights changing with the new technology come in years following. One of these examples of a copyright being revised is the copyright of 1976 and 1980. These copyright laws were revised to include software. (Baase, 239)

An example of these ever-changing laws is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. Under this act, people are prohibited in “making, distributing or using of tools, which are devices, software or services, to circumvent technological copyright protection system used by copyright holders.” (Baase, 240) As with every rule, with this rule being no different, there are some exceptions. One of these exceptions is the idea of fair use. The fair use doctrine says that uses such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research are fair game because if they weren’t, it would be violating freedom of speech. There are four factors taken into consideration when seeing if a certain use is under the fair use doctrine:

1. The purpose and nature of the use.

2. The nature of the copyrighted work.

3. The amount and significance of the portion used.

4. The effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. (Baase, 241-242)

There are several cases dealing with the fair use doctrine under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. One of the more famous cases dealing with this act is the Sony verses Universal Studios. In this case, Sony had developed new recording technology called the Betamax. The Betamax could record movies off of the television to be watched at a later time. Universal Studios saw this as copyright infringement. Sony saw this case as fair use. This was taken to the Supreme...

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