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RE: A thought about H.R. 2281 - Anti circumvention

In any case, my question isn't whether copyright law covers digital
content.  It's whether it ought to cover digital content in the same way
it would the physical contents of someone's home, by making it illegal to
surmount the barriers lawfully erected by the copyright owner.  Again:
breaking into someone's house is illegal, even if you don't want to commit
a crime after you get inside.  Should breaking into a web site be illegal,
even if you only want to make fair use of the information to which the
site acts as a gateway?  The question isn't whether the content is
protected by copyright law, but whether we ought to protect the barriers
themselves with a new law, the way we protect the integrity of household
barriers with existing laws. 

Rick Anderson
Head Acquisitions Librarian
Jackson Library
UNC Greensboro
1000 Spring Garden St.
Greensboro, NC 27402-6175
PH (336) 334-5281
FX (336) 334-5399

"A wise man knows that all gold is fool's gold.
The irony is that such knowledge rarely comes
* Anon.

The problem I see with your analogy is that you're assuming that the one 
who erects the barrier is the "owner" of the content.  With digital 
content, that presumption is often not the case.  For example, the content 
of a database may be in the public domain, or rights beyond first 
publication of a particular article may belong to the author although the 
barrier is erected by the publisher.  The bundle of rights covered by 
copyright law is not at all similar to rights to possession of physical 
items, which transfer wholly from possessor to possessor regardless of 
whether the transfer is by sale, license, rental, or gift.  Rights to 
intellectual property can be chopped up in numerous ways, and reserved or 
transferred in whole or in part.  Anti-circumvention measures can therefore 
give the implementer control of content to which he/she has no legal right, 
and indeed, control over content that belongs to the public at large.

Terry Cullen
Electronic Services Librarian
Seattle University School of Law
950 Broadway Plaza
Tacoma, WA 98402-4470
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