You might have noticed that recent US-pushed developments in copyright law have led to the apparent criminalisation of a lot of things people like to do with their electronic equipment that do not involve piracy, but that do involve breaking the control the manufacturers seek to impose on their customers. You can’t play that content you’ve bought on that device you own! We do not give you permission!
Well, there is hope – however mild, given the massive imbalance in power between users and the corporate giants determined to maintain control. Two developments this week in the US:
- A New Orleans judge rejects the interpretation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act that would make it an offence to break such controls even on embedded systems (like garage door openers) that have no piracy connection whatsoever. And it might, although it contradicts other precedents the content industry has obtained, be able to be applied more generally. Said Judge Garza: “Merely bypassing a technological protection that restricts a user from viewing or using a work is insufficient to trigger the (Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s) anti-circumvention provision.”
- And now the US Copyright Office amends its rules for DMCA prosecution. There’s a list of six exemptions in the link, but basically if you’re “jailbreaking” technology for a legitimate purpose – running your phone on a network that doesn’t support it, overcoming technology locks that are obsolete, trying to run software on your device that would run if not for the DRM – you’d be exempt.
Expect the corporate content industry to immediately shift into gear to squash these developments.