Life after the DMCA and Napster
By now, many people have spent many years of their lives working on the enactment of and litigation stemming from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Having worked on the bill on the staff of the House Judiciary Committee, I find it interesting now to look back and compare what people thought at the time the Act was being debated and to see the evolution of the music industry since its enactment. Our industry was both lucky and unlucky to be the developer of the first major type of intellectual property available in the digital environment.
It has been an interesting process to watch the evolution of how the music companies have embraced, over several years' time, new business models, to try to figure out exactly what the consumers will want, how their content will be protected, how to work with technology companies, and how to make sure that technology and content will work in an interdependent way. And I have to say that I am amazed at the fervent commitment of music companies to develop legitimate businesses on the Internet.
One thing I think everyone learned during the policy debate was how interdependent technology delivery systems and content are in this new world. We also ran into a lot of difficult copyright law questions. What does a “reproduction” mean now? What does a “distribution” mean now? How in the world are we going to negotiate with not just technology companies but other content owners, with music publishers who own the musical work in the sound recording and with performance rights organizations who represent songwriters who are entitled to a royalty from the performance?
Given all of the new marketing and business deals and legal changes, we are now at a crucial point. Services like digital rights management systems, evolving legitimate peer-to-peer file-sharing systems, on-demand digital music subscription services, interactive