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This is a cautionary tale. Back in 1996, 1997 and 1998, the law prohibiting circumvention of "access controls" was conceived, described and defended on the ground that it was very narrow. Initially, "access" was intended to mean initial access - the digital equivalent of breaking into a bookstore to steal a book. Copyright owners, though, insisted that "access controls" should also include devices to facilitate pay-per-view. Since that would require protecting works against continuing access, copyright owner lobbyists resisted any narrowing language. Still, when opponents of section 1201 complained to Congress that the language before it might give copyright owners rights to prevent uses that were now completely legal, supporters said "nonsense. This is a very narrow, limited, targeted provision that goes after pirates and only pirates."


Copyright 2002 Columbia University School of Law. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.