The Tech Exec that Broke Federal Law?

Very interesting reading…

Here’s a snippet for you:

“I used a program to copy a few seconds from the DVD of the movie Rudy,” he said. “It’s the scene showing the final game of the Notre Dame season with Rudy’s family in the stands cheering wildly when he got to play. I then spliced in some snippets of pro players doing a touchdown dance from NFL Films, and I overlaid it with audio from ‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’ […]

There was just one problem. “It turns out to do this, I violated the DMCA. I used the DeCSS program to circumvent the encryption and access the movie clips on the DVD that I own,” Whiteside told the aides. “The end product is a DVD that I don’t sell or distribute but is considered a derivative work under copyright law.”[…]

“This is precisely the kind of exciting consumer creativity that should be enabled,” he said. “I don’t claim to have all the answers. Should I have to go clear rights to use ten seconds from Rudy in my son’s video, or does it fall under fair use? Should I have to pay pennies for every second of a snippet? I don’t know. But I do know that we have to figure out a way for consumers to do something creative without breaking the law.

And, he’s got a point. At what point did we give up our right to create derivative works? As a consumer and a voter, I have to wonder what person in congress was representing me when the DMCA was passed, because I certainly know enough about video editing that I could have made the video mentioned in the article here. In fact, I’ve used popular music to make home movies that I’ve put on a DVD and given to my family. Am I going to sell these things? Or distribute them on the black market? Absolutely not.

Before the DMCA, my ability to create something like that was protected under copyright law. Now, it’s illegal. Derivative works and parody have been protected for years. It’s how movies “based on the novel by…” (no matter how loosely based, such as “The Lawnmower Man”) and the Star Wars and Dragonlance series of novels are possible.

As time goes on, the more I feel that the entertainment industry is fighting to protect a dying business model. I do think that digital rights management is important. I don’t think that I should be able to download footage from Rudy off the internet for free and use it in my derivative work (or in my case, Basement Jaxx’s remix of “Do Your Thing”), but if I own a copy of the DVD or CD, or I have paid to download the content from a legitimate digital content dealer, fair use should come into play. Under the DMCA, fair use doesn’t exist. So Ella Fitzgerald’s estate could sue Basement Jaxx for their remixes of her music and win, and in turn they can sue me for using their remix as background music on a slideshow of my children that I sent to my 80 year old grandmother. I just don’t understand what the point in suing me over that would be. It’s not like I asked my grandmother to slip me some cash for the video of the kids. I gave it to her. Big difference here.

Online access to digital content is fast becoming the way people desire to get their music and movies., iTunes and Netflix are pulling in more money right now than your average music store in your local shopping mall. The sad fact that the music and movie industries are ignoring, is that these business models work. They work for the consumer, they work for the artist and they work for everyone except for the man that physically presses a CD. If we elminate physical media, the RIAA is out of business and they know it. That’s why they are fighting so hard. Which songs get the most airplay will no longer be determined by a record company exec sitting in a penthouse apartment in Beverly Hills. It’ll be determined by Joe Schmoe with his ipod, or Jane Lane with her PSP.