A House of Representatives panel on Wednesday plans to hold what appears to be the first hearing devoted to critiquing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Critics of the 1998 law are hoping to use the event to slam its highly controversial "anti-circumvention" sections--which generally prohibit bypassing copy-protection technology--and drum up support for an alternative called the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act.
First introduced by Rick Boucher, D-Va, and John Doolittle, R-Calif., in October 2002, the DMCRA would defang current law by permitting circumvention for "fair use" purposes. It has received a hostile reception from the entertainment industry and is not expected to be enacted this year. One reason: The consumer protection subcommittee convening this week's hearing does not have jurisdiction over copyright law.