It seems that no matter who you ask or what you read in the press, the outlook for copyright appears bleak. The reasons for these apocalyptic assessments, however, depend on your perspective.
For instance, in a recent article, “The Tyranny of Copyright”, anecdotal abuses of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by certain copyright owners were cited as evidence of the wayward direction of the copyright law. These abuses and other “copyright horror stories” have allegedly been growing over the past few years, culminating in attempts to stifle student speech by Diebold Election Systems, law suits brought by the recording industry against individual file sharers, attempts to force the Girl Scouts to pay royalties for singing around the campfire and the ban by the motion picture industry on sending DVDs to Academy Award screeners. The article’s “fair and balanced” depiction of the state of the copyright law “inadvertently” neglected to mention that other sections of the DMCA provided a mechanism for counter-notices that the students might have used to have the Diebold material put back online had Diebold not first withdrawn its threat,  that the file sharers sued by the RIAA had been accused of offering massive quantities of copyrighted works to others around the world to be freely copied  and that soon after the screener ban was lifted,  watermarked copies of Oscar nominated movies began finding their way on the Internet. Okay, the threat against the Girl Scouts revealed poor judgment,  but let’s face it, mistakes happen. When a mistake like that happens, it seldom happens again. Most of these “horror stories” were resolved in the copyright critics’ favor. The exception is the suits against individual file “sharers” uploading and downloading copyrighted works on peer-to-peer networks on the Internet. Do these law suits against file distributors validate the critics’ claims of copyright abuse?