RIAA, computer industry unveil dubious "landmark agreement"

Yesterday, the RIAA and two computer industry trade groups announced a self-proclaimed “landmark agreement”. In it, the RIAA agrees to (mostly) stop asking the government to burden the computer industry with enforcing copyright controls in hardware/software, on the condition that the computer industry agrees to not support anything that would reinforce (and especially improve) your digtial media fair use rights for. As Dan Gillmor remarked:

This “landmark agreement” seems mostly an endorsement of the status quo.

As Fred von Lohmann, a senior staff attorney for the EFF, told Salon.com:

I don’t think this agreement marks any particular global settlement of the debate. The agreement doesn’t mention “fair use” at all. I think that it’s a great example of why letting inter-industry negotiations dictate our rights is a bad idea. In this day of copy-protection and the DMCA, to not address fair use head-on is, I think, a big mistake.

Weakening its impact even more, the MPAA and CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) are notably absent from the agreement. The MPAA isn’t interested because they want to retain the right to — heck, they intend to — use technology to trump fair use. The consumer electronics industry aren’t interested because they know they won’t be able to sell products that impede fair use. Even Intel, who agreed to agree on the agreement in principle, told the New York Times that they continue to support Rep. Rick Boucher’s proposed Digital Media Consumers Rights Act (which, DMCA be damned, preserves your fair-use rights for digital media even if you have to crack DRMs to get it). | Associated Press story | Dan Gillmor’s eJournal | New York Times | Salon.com story | Wired story