Despite the moniker, the super-DMCA bills are not much like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which became federal law in 1998. They do deal with the same issue–the protection of copyright in an age when digital devices make piracy an easy task–but the state bills use much broader language. (The state bills differ in their details, but are all based on the same model legislation.) They outlaw any “communications device” used “without the express consent or express authorization of the communication service provider.” That means your phone company, cable company, and ISP get to decide what’s legal and what’s not. This is not a good idea for the future of tech competition.
The problem of protecting copyrights is a real one, and it is difficult to solve. But the super-DMCA bills, in their attempt to counter vague threats with vague language, create more problems than they solve. Theft, fraud, and copyright violation are already illegal. Making every “communications device” suspect and every consumer a possible criminal is not the way to prevent piracy.
Thankfully, Colorado’s governor Bill Owens, who recently vetoed one of these stupid super-DCMA laws, seems to agree with Hanah. According to Linda Seebach of the Rocky Mountain News (via Instapundit), Bill Owens warned the legislature “to be more careful in drafting a bill that adds protections that are rightfully needed, but does not paint a broad brush stroke where only a tight line is needed.”