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Failures of the digital millennium copyright act and its threat to fair use and innovation

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  1. Introduction
  2. Signing of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act - DMCA
  3. Misusing of DMCA
  4. The primary technical problems
  5. Ethical problem between the DMCA and fair usage
  6. The primary and secondary stakeholders
  7. An overview of the ethical analysis
  8. Principle of rights
  9. Principle of utilitarianism
  10. Recommendations to solve the ethical problem
  11. Conclusion
  12. Bibliography

In today's society, technology has improved in a very short time, allowing us to perform acts that were not previously possible, such as calling from afar on a cell phone, connecting with someone from India via the computer, or storing what would be thousands of documents into a small flash drive. Such improvements require a certain types of laws to address the appropriate role and use of this technology in society. One major area that has been a hot issue on the world wide web is the usage of easily obtainable copyrighted works (music, video, etc) on popular social sites such as YouTube, Veoh, Myspace, Facebook.

Fair use is loosely defined by a certain sets of laws encompassed by the Copyright Act of 1976, in sections 107-118. It is this set of guidelines that allow for the usage of copyrighted works without the need for permission from the copyright owner. There are 4 general factors to consider when determining if a usage is ?fair use?: 1) purpose of usage (Is it for commercial or non-commercial usage?), 2) nature of the copyrighted work (how will it be used?), 3) amount used (Is it a significant portion?), and 4) the effects of how it will be used on the copyrighted work (Does it degrade or lower market value of the copyrighted work?). Fair use protects the creativity and innovation that are enabled from having others sample another person's works. With today's technology, the average computer user can take a song or video clip, use a software program (such as a movie/song editor), and make something new. After all, inventions were made from using the ideas passed on from one generation to another.

[...] On the other hand, fair use allows innovation and creativity to be unhindered, thus giving users the ability to express themselves. This is a human right we all share and cherish. Taking away our creativity means the end of us being individuals, as many distinguish themselves from the rest of the crowd through their abilities in the arts. If the balance shifts too much towards the copyright holders, they will have even more power over fair use. This sets us on a dangerous road. [...]

[...] Because all of the cases involving Fair Use are very similar to each other, we will be using one case and applying the three ethical principles to one case. Because the cases are similar, what you apply to one case, you are basically applying to all of the cases. The case we are going to use is Lenz v. Universal. If you recall, this case involved a woman, Stephanie Lenz, who posted a twenty nine second clip of her baby running around and dancing to a radio song in the background. [...]

[...] Technical Problem: The primary technical problem related to the issue at hand is one of ?content management.? How can service providers who host user-generated content (UCG) like Youtube and Veoh implement a system which prevents copyright infringement without trampling fair use? Currently, a number of services rely on automated content filters which alleviate the burden of having to comb through a vast collection of videos in search of potentially copyright-infringing material. This allows these services to err on the side of caution by casting an extremely wide net, even though DMCA Safe Harbor provisions protect service providers against liability anyway. [...]

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