ECA Takes On ESA Over DMCA

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In a battle between acronyms about acronyms, the ECA is challenging the ESA over H.R. 1201, which would make changes to portions of the DMCA.

Also known as the Fair Use Act of 2007, H.R. 1201 would create some exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s current restrictions on bypassing anti-piracy efforts. If passed, the Fair Use Act would legalize breaking copy protection schemes for personal archiving, for “researching, critiquing or reporting on works of substantial public interest,” or for bypassing commercial or personally objectionable content. It would also legalize, in some circumstances, the creation and distribution of equipment designed to circumvent copy protection: Mod chips.

Hal Halpin, president of the ECA (Entertainment Consumers Association) said, “We understand and respect the careful balance that must exist between the rights of copyright holders and the rights of consumers of copyrighted material. We believe in the protection of intellectual property while maintaining consumers’ right and ability to lawfully use acquired media for non-commercial purposes. Additional, digital rights issues should be subject to private-sector inter-industry resolution rather than government-imposed intervention.”

Dan Hewitt of the ESA (Entertainment Software Association), however, said the current law should stand as-is. Speaking to GameSpot, he said, “We actually do support the legally defined concept of fair use. The way that Hal is using it is actually a distortion of what fair use is, if they’re using it as as defense for changing what is currently legally understood as the fair use doctrine.” The ESA website also states that efforts to “weaken” the DMCA will be “vigorously opposed by ESA and others in the copyright community.”

The move comes less than two weeks after the ECA appointed Jennifer Mercurio as its lobbyist to the U.S. government as part of an effort to step the agency’s legislative representation. Mercurio had formerly served as the lead attorney at the ESA.

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