By Richard Menta 11/11/05
Usually when I hear about demands made on the government about digital rights it is a one way affair. It comes from content industries and their congressional lobbies who call consumers thieves and say they need protection from their own customers. The media industries hawk new bills to restrict digital activities they hope will turn to law. So far the strategy of opposing groups like the EFF consist of activities designed to block those myriad of bills from becoming law.
European consumer groups are taking a different road, recently begining an initiative that hopes to clearly lay out a set of pro-consumer legislation in this matter. This proactive tact hopes to establish consumer digital rights, rights that preserve existing fair use activities with the rise of technology and maybe even extend them.
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Organizations like The UK's National Consumer Council and the European consumer group BEUC are concerned that user rights are being trampled by the media vendors, particularly the music industry which has been the most agressive with regards to court actions and government lobbying. As content holders propose legislation to criminalize certain digital activities these groups seek to bring balance in the name of consumers.
Copyright is not a right it is a privilege, one that is extended to content holders by representatives of the public. Here in the states that's your local congressman. The European consumer groups seem to have the right idea; first define what existing fair rights exist and then make sure goverment respects, not erodes them. This includes defining new fair rights for the consumer as the the digital era dawns.
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