I'd like to drop a note to you about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, and it's consequences on the NYC public. This law has a huge negative impact in our struggle to fund schools and our libraries. In addition, it's a stumbling block to the common citizens of NYC, and our growing high tech sectors. Lastly I believe it's contributing to a worsening of our current recession. I ask you to follow the lead of Congressman Boucher of Virginia in calling for a repeal of this law, before it does more damage to us.
With the advent of the internet, the cost of information has dropped to almost negotiable prices. The basic texts needed to teach elementary education, when digitally made available, reduces the costs of distribution and can potentially save the schools billions of dollars in costs. These are costs which the Board of Education can be plowing into teachers, buildings, and equipment.
We are faced with a fundamental question. If the cost of information has been dramatically reduced, then why is it that the cost of libraries and education is rising?
Much of the answer to this is that the DMCA, and Copyright extensions have reduced fair access to knowledge. The cost of these to activities is stagering to the public. It's an unfair burden which we can no longer afford to ignore.
No single invention in mankind's history has produced as many creative works as the explosion of digital communications over the past five years. With little regard for profits, millions of people have authored works and presented them on the net. And yet, in the face of these events, the government has inexplicably passed laws to lock down published works for longer periods of time and eliminated fair use under the DMCA. We've now reached a crisis to our political rights with the arrest of Dmitry Skyarkov for making programs available designed to guarantee access to books. Are we looking at a future where libraries will no longer exist and the act of reading a book with a child can be a felony because a fee is not paid by the parent?
I believe we are looking at exactly that future if the DMCA is not repealed, copyright not scaled back to some reasonable limited length of time, such as 40 years, and fair use doctrine reasserted as the publics inalienable rights.
I am so alarmed by recent events, and the long term impact this is having on my children, that I've joined an organization called New Yorkers for Fair Use. Their stated purpose is to champion fair use in the law, and to preserve political freedom. Since you sit on committees that deal with internet law and copyright regulations, I am explicitly requesting you take a strong stand against the DMCA. I would also ask that your office appoints a staff member to spear head research and evaluate copyright laws, and to act as a balance against the misinformation being espoused by publishers, and the music industry.
Lastly, I request you to intervene on behalf of Dmitry Sklyarv, who is being held against his will in the US for violating the DMCA. It seems that presently Russia has more sensible protections of the public than the US in terms of copyright law.