Death by DMCA
- In 1998, U.S. entertainment companies persuaded Congress to make dramatic changes in its copyright code by passing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA gave copyright holders new rights to control the way people use copyrighted material and new protection for technologies designed to restrict access or copying. The movie and record companies argued they needed these new restrictions to fight increased piracy threats in the digital era.
In the eight years since the DMCA's passage, however, piracy has not decreased, and hurdles to lawful uses of media have risen. The Motion Picture Association (MPA), the international arm of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), estimated worldwide losses because of piracy to be US $2.2 billion in 1997 and $3.5 billion annually in 2002, 2003, and 2004.
Meanwhile, entire consumer electronics categories have been wiped from retail shelves. If three or four years ago you didn't buy a digital video recorder that automatically skips commercials, you're out of luck; that feature is not in such products today. Television executives brought litigation that bankrupted the company offering DVRs with these user-friendly features, because skipping commercials potentially undermines their ability to sell commercial time.