IEEE no longer requires DMCA compliance

— 8:37 AM on April 16, 2002

More good news for the average citizen on the digital rights front. Last week we mentioned that the SSSCA (an act that, if adopted as law, would aim to control digital media distribution and copying by making the sale of all non-compliant hardware illegal) was being roundly rejected by the public, and it may have difficulty in Congress as a result.

Public rejection may also be the ultimate future for the the SSSCA's predecessor: the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), which passed into law in 1998. The DMCA outlaws the cracking of copy protection, and it outlaws the distribution of technology that can be used to circumvent copyright protection schemes—even if users don't do anything illegal once they've broken said copy protection. The Institute of Electronics and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which publishes a bundle of trade rags worldwide, has backtracked on a requirement that authors comply with the DMCA:

The IEEE produced a new set of conditions for publication at the beginning of 2002. These required that authors' work must not contravene the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).

But following many complaints, the IEEE has now decided to change the document. "The plan is to remove the reference to the DCMA," says Bill Hagen, intellectual property rights manager for the IEEE. "It's controversial to say the least. We've been getting a lot of correspondence, comment and opinion and have been forced to reconsider it."

The proponents of the DMCA had a fairly easy time getting it passed, but enforcing bad law is more difficult than throwing money at Congress.
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