September 15, 2019

What’s the Goal of the Super-DMCA?

One of the mysteries surrounding the Super-DMCA is what its purpose might be. The arguments in favor of it are all vague, amounting to nothing more than “If you dislike piracy, you should support this bill.”

There are, of course, plenty of laws that already ban various types of “piracy.” There are laws against computer intrusions, laws against fraud, laws against eavesdropping on telecommunications, and laws against theft of cable TV and phone services. With all of these laws on the books, what illegitimate telecom behavior is left to ban?

Super-DMCA advocates have conspicuously failed to answer this question. They have failed to put forth any specific improper acts that would be banned by the Super-DMCA and are not already illegal. At the Massachusetts hearings last week, for example, the MPAA lobbyist who spoke could not give even one example of an illegitimate but otherwise-legal act that the bill would ban.

Also notable has been the silence of the law enforcement community. The Massachusetts hearing was attended by a representative of the state attorney general’s office, who had come to testify on behalf of a bill on another topic. This representative did not speak on behalf of the Super-DMCA. Why? Presumably because law enforcement already has the tools it needs to prosecute the bad guys.