Hackers, Others Seek DMCA Exemptions
The U.S. Copyright Office has received 19 comments constituting nine requests for exemptions to anti-circumvention provisions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Every three years, the office and the Librarian of Congress request proposed changes as required under the decade-old law.
The DMCA, which President Clinton signed 10 years ago, dictates “no person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.”
More than a dozen exemptions to that language have been granted the past decade. Public hearings on the latest requests, which were submitted by Tuesday’s deadline, will be held in early 2009.
Here are summaries and links to the exemption petitions:
*The American Foundation for the Blind is petitioning (.pdf) to renew an exemption granted in 2002 and 2006 allowing the hacking of an e-book’s shuttered read-aloud function.
*Petition (.pdf) to exempt DRM-protected streaming video “where the provider has only made available players for a limited number of platforms, effectively creating an access control that requires a specific operating system version and/or set of hardware to view purchased material.”
*Film studies professors are currently allowed to copy clips from copyrighted and encrypted DVDs for educational purposes. Petitions from a variety of university professors and others ask (.pdf) that the right be extended to documentary filmmakers and to U.S. teachers of any subject at all levels.
*University of Michigan computer scientist J. Alex Halderman petitions (.pdf) to hack copy-control measures on sound recordings, videos and audiovisual works “for the purpose of good-faith testing, investigating or correcting … security flaws or vulnerabilities.”
*Spectrum Software (.pdf) of Florida is asking to continue exemptions granted in 2000, 2003 and 2006 authorizing the circumvention of so-called “dongles” — access control devices in older software that attached to either the printer port or the USB port of a computer and prevents a licensed end user from accessing computer programs that have been legally purchased.
*MetroPCS (.pdf) and others are petitioning to extend for another three years the ability to unlock one’s cellphone to switch that phone to another, compatible carrier.
*Harvard University and CNET columnist Christopher Soghoian is requesting (.pdf) users of DRM-protected music, videos, software and games be allowed to circumvent that copy protection feature to protect their properties if a central authenticating server connected to that merchandise, including Apple’s iTunes, is shuttered for whatever reason.
*The Electronic Frontier Foundation is petitioning (.pdf) for the privilege of hacking smartphones, which could allow iPhone owners, for example, to run Firefox on their devices.
*The EFF is also seeking an exemption (.pdf) to circumventing DVD encryption to obtain clips “for inclusion in noncommercial videos that do not infringe copyright.” The risk of liability “chills the ability of remix video creators to resist unfounded DMCA ‘takedown notices’ that impair their ability to share remix videos on the internet,” the EFF wrote.
Here is a link to all the comments.
Also on Wired.com