US Congress has approved landmark legislation which will pull Stateside copyright law into the digital age.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (H2281), approved by the Senate implements two international treaties adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organisation in 1996.
Anyone and everyone with copyright interests, including software companies, book publishers and film studios, have been putting their weight behind the legislation. They feared that by distributing their products over the Internet in digital form they were more open to illegal pirating.
The legislation basically creates criminal penalties for anyone who is found to circumvent hi-tech anti-piracy protections, such as encryption. The bill, once it is signed into the law by President Clinton, will forbid the manufacture, import, sale or distribution of devices or services that can break into these protective systems.
Under the bill Internet service providers will not be liable for copyright infringements made by their customers. Exceptions to this rule will include libraries, universities, scientific projects and consumer electronics manufacturers.
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