Two Decades of Attempts to Enforce Copyright


Over at Ars Technica, Reason contributor Tim Lee has an excellent brief summary of the last twenty years worth of attempts to use legislation and the court system system to protect copyright. Lowlights include the increasing copyright infringement fines in 1997; the passage of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) in 1998, which gave copyright owners effective control over the design of playback devices; the music industry forcing an early cloud music service out of business and pursuing legal action against a DVD jukebox manufacturer for violating the DMCA; and the 2008 passage of the PRO-IP act, which gave way to a series of domestic Internet domain seizures beginning in 2010. In other words, legislators have bought into the industry's digital piracy panic and given copyright owners all sorts of legal powers and enforcement help over the years. But as we saw with the recent debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the film and music industries are continuing to demand more legal power and government protection, arguing that they can't compete without it—despite evidence suggesting that these industries are in many ways doing fine