EFF to Copyright Office: let my tablets, consoles, and phones go!

It's time for the triennial Copyright Office hearings on exemptions to the anti-circumvention measures in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The Copyright Office will entertain submissions on when and how it should be legal to break DRM. In the last round, EFF successfully petititoned the Copyright Officeto legalize jailbreaking iPhones to enable the installation of software that Apple hadn't approved -- but the Office didn't make it legal to produce or distribute tools for this, nor did they extend the ruling to the iPad.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is asking the Copyright office for an ambitious group of exemptions this time around:

In the exemption requests filed today, EFF asked the Copyright Office to protect the "jailbreaking" of smartphones, electronic tablets, and video game consoles – liberating them to run operating systems and applications from any source, not just those approved by the manufacturer. EFF also asked for legal protections for artists and critics who use excerpts from DVDs or downloading services to create new, remixed works. These exemptions build on and expand exemptions that EFF won last year for jailbreakers and remix artists.

"The DMCA is supposed to block copyright infringement. But instead it can be misused to threaten creators, innovators, and consumers, discouraging them from making full and fair use of their own property," said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "Hobbyists and tinkerers who want to modify their phones or video game consoles to run software programs of their choice deserve protection under the law. So do artists and critics who use short excerpts of video content to create new works of commentary and criticism. Copyright law shouldn't be stifling such uses – it should be encouraging them."

EFF Seeks to Widen Exemptions Won in Last DMCA Rulemaking

(Image: Jailbreaking Apple iPod touch, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from fhke's photostream)


  1. Given the current climate in Washington regarding intellectual property, it’s hard to imagine this has a snowball’s chance in hell. But I certainly hope they make some headway.

    1. I have hope, for two reasons:

      1. The Copyright Office is an administrative, unelected branch, and is less subject to direct influence from moneyed forces (though not immune by any stretch)

      2. The evidence on jailbreaking from the past three years is clear, and expert agencies should be taking evidence into account in these proceedings.

      1. One would also like to think that the current CarrierIQ could have some bearing on their decision, after all, if rooting is akin to jailbreaking, then it is the only means of getting rid of rootkit-esque software such as CarrierIQ. 

  2. Taking a quick gander at this comment as compared to the comment EFF provided in the last round… it seems like a much stronger factual case has been made for all of these devices. Granted, there is a new Register, so it is anybody’s guess…

    One can hope.

  3. I donate to only a few, three, really, entities on any kind of ongoing, automatically recurring basis. The EFF is one of them. Freedoms are easiest to remove and deny in a new environment, without established law or custom, and the EFF is the most effective player in this new space.

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