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."