MOSCOW, Russia (AP) - Bill Gates was arrested late Thursday evening at Moscow International Airport. Gates, co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), was returning to the US after attending a software conference in Moscow. Sources indicate the NKVD arrested Gates on charges pursuant to an alleged violation of Russian software law. The charges were reportedly filed by the Russian software firm Camah, presumably in response to the recent release of Microsoft Advanced eBook Processor. (This software allows users to convert Camah eBook texts into other formats.) As a foreign national, Gates was denied bail.
"Yeah, right." you think. "That's absurd. It could never happen. A U.S. citizen arrested in Russia for violating a Russian law while in the United States." Unfortunately, change the names, swap the roles of Russia and the United States, and it happened quite recently. How? Thanks to a 60 page piece of legislation known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. (DMCA)
To understand the DMCA, we must understand what it was designed to do. The name gives away a few clues. Obviously it deals with copyrights, and things digital. And at the the core of any discussion of copyright is the concept of intellectual property. Without getting mired in legal jargon, let us consider an example.
Pretend you're a musician. (I'll leave it up to you to decide if you're starving or not) Simplifying things greatly, there are really only two things you have to do to produce an album. The first is coming up with the lyrics and the music. This is your intellectual property. Second, you need to record and make copies of your music. (Unless you went with "starving" above) These copies are physi...
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...ca.org (Mar 2002).
Boucher, Rick (D-VA) "Time to rewrite the DMCA" Jan 29, 2002 http://news.com.com/2010-1078-825335.html (Mar 2002)
"Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies" Feb 17, 2000 http://www.acm.org/usacm/IP/dmca.exemption.htm (Mar 2002)
"Digital Millennium Copyright Act Status And Analysis" Mar 19, 2001 http://www.arl.org/info/frn/copy/dmca.html (Mar 2002)
"US Copyright Office Summary of the Digital Millennum Copyright Act of 1998" December 1998 http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/legislation/dmca.pdf (Mar 2002)
Ferguson, Niels "Censorship in action: Silenced by the DMCA" Aug 29, 2001 http://www.macfergus.com/niels/dmca/ (Mar 2002)
Samuelson, Pamela "Anticircumvention Rules: Threat to Science" Sep 14, 2001 http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/293/5537/2028 (Mar 2002)
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