The Federal Trade Commission has now published a list of proposed topics for the DRM Town Hall to be held (and webcast) on March 25 in Seattle. The topic outline is both broad and detailed and worth reviewing.
The legal section proposes these topics:
Legal Landscape of DRM:
- The Copyright Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
- Copyright Office triennial rulemaking
- Impact of DRM on fair use and the first sale doctrine
- End User License Agreements / Terms and Conditions
- FTC Act – Section 5
It has seemed to me for a very long time that the copyright industries have made significant progress using both contractual and technical means toward replacing copyright law with contract law, and by doing so, substantially negating the first sale doctrine and many aspects of fair use.
Many copyright advocates argue that the fair use is important to its numerous constituencies, including research, education, and libraries, if only to reduce the cost burdens that might otherwise be imposed by rights holders.
Those in the copyright industry often argue that even if there is no desire to collect additional revenue from what would be considered fair use, contractual and technical means can be very useful in discouraging uses that cross the line from fair use to copyright abuse.
Rights holders sometimes want to know who is using their content, even if those uses fall within fair use. Thus some DRM systems may collect usage information even when no additional fees are imposed. Collecting usage information raises understandable privacy concerns that would probably fall under the last topic, FTC Act - Section 5
The discussion in Seattle should be most interesting.