The people v the entertainment industry - who carries the most sway?

The US Congress has taken a step toward revising the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act, in a move which the entertainment industry has branded an attempt to "legalise hacking".

A House of Representatives subcommittee convened on Wednesday for the first hearing devoted to a proposal to change the DMCA, a 1998 law that broadly restricts bypassing copy-protection technologies used in DVDs, a few music CDs and some software programs.

Called the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act, the amendments are backed by librarians, liberal consumer groups and some technology firms. But they're bitterly opposed by the entertainment industry, including Hollywood, major record labels and the Business Software Alliance.

Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Association of America, said of the proposed changes: "It legalises hacking. It allows you to make a copy or many copies, and the 1000th copy of a DVD, Mr. Chairman, is as pure and pristine as the original. You strip away all the protective clothing of that DVD and leave it naked and alone."

Section 1201 of the DMCA drew fire after it was used to outlaw a utility permitting Linux users to watch their own DVDs, as well as threaten security researchers with lawsuits. Programmer Dmitry Sklyarov was charged under the DMCA for writing a program that let owners of Adobe e-books export them to Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

The proposed amendments, sponsored by Rick Boucher, D-Va, and John Doolittle, R-Calif., would permit circumvention for "fair use" purposes. Selling pirated DVDs and other forms of copyright infringement would remain illegal.

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