Since 1998, using your own property has required regulatory permission and the ability to make your own jailbreaking tools from scratch

In Did Congress Really Expect Us to Whittle Our Own Personal Jailbreaking Tools? -- a new post on EFF's Deeplinks blog -- I describe the bizarre, unfair and increasingly salient US Copyright Office DMCA exemptions process, which is underway right now.

This process takes place every 3 years, and it allows Americans to beg the Librarian of Congress for permission to disable the DRM on their own property in order to do legal things (like install apps of their own choosing, effect their own repairs, or just use third-party ink in their printers). After a long and tortured process, the Librarian may grant you permission -- but not permission to buy or collaborate on the tools necessary to make that use.

In other words, the statute says that even when you're allowed to break DRM, you're expected to figure out how to do so from scratch, without any outside assistance.

Apparently, fans of DMCA 1201 believe that the process for getting permission to use your own stuff should go like this:

1. A corporation sells you a gadget that disallows some activity, or they push a software update to a gadget you already own to take away a feature it used to have;

2. You and your lawyers wait up to three years, then you write to the Copyright Office explaining why you think this is unfair;

3. The corporation that made your gadget tells the Copyright Office that you're a whiny baby who should just shut up and take it;

4. You write back to the Copyright Office to defend your use;

5. Months later, the Library of Congress gives you a limited permission to use your property (maybe);

And then...

6. You get a degree in computer science, and subject your gadget to close scrutiny to find a flaw in the manufacturer's programming;

7. Without using code or technical information from anyone else (including other owners of the same gadget) you figure out how to exploit that flaw to let you use your device in the way the government just said you could;

8. Three years later, you do it again.

Did Congress Really Expect Us to Whittle Our Own Personal Jailbreaking Tools? [Cory Doctorow/Deeplinks]

(Image: Primitive Technology)

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