Initial comments on 1201: fixing what’s broken

I’ve been reading through the initial
comments on 1201 for the Copyright Office’s inquiry
.  One overarching thought: current “winners”—successful
exemption proponents—unanimously say the current process is broken.  Current losers—unsuccessful exemption
opponents—occasionally express openness to minor tweaks, such as a meaningless
presumption of renewal if there’s no
opposition, but say the process is fine. 
This rather unusual configuration of complaints suggests something about
how inherently skewed the process is: spending roughly 500 hours per exemption
(and that’s just on the proponents’ side, excluding opponents and the Copyright
Office) to double the word count of last time’s exemption, increasing its complexity and decreasing its utility, is a victory only
compared to the even worse alternative.
Also, a small but telling point: The Copyright Alliance
touts as a DRM success: “On this site, users are able to search an
online library, which as of December 2011 included access to over 12,000 films
and over 50,000 clips. The site allows users to compile clips into playlists
(as a professor might wish to do for classroom use) and access the library with
any API to incorporate clips into an application that the user is
developing.”  Except that’s not what the site does in 2016;
it’s an ad platform for integrating ads into “premium” clips, not a consumer
site allowing users to compile playlists. 
I guess DRM didn’t prove all that helpful after all.  More generally: copyright owners’ business
models do not take care of fair use, and it’s past time to stop pretending that
they can.  (Also, cite checking has
relevance beyond law school.  Just sayin’.)

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