EFF Wins New Legal Protections against misuse of the DMCA
EFF has won a major victory against abuse of DMCA: it has won two critical exemptions against the misuse of copyright law to shackle the hand of the consumer. In particular, smartphone jailbreakers can no longer be sued under DMCA.
The Copyright Office recognizes that the primary purpose of the locks on cell phones is to bind customers to their existing networks, rather than to protect copyrights. The Copyright Office agrees with EFF that the DMCA shouldn’t be used as a barrier to prevent people who purchase phones from keeping those phones when they change carriers. The DMCA also shouldn’t be used to interfere with recyclers who want to extend the useful life of a handset.
Jennifer Granick, EFF’s Civil Liberties Director
You could almost say that the EFF guided the hand of the copyright office in giving Apple a bloody nose (well, I’d like to think so, anyway):
When one jailbreaks a smartphone in order to make the operating system on that phone interoperable with an independently created application that has not been approved by the maker of the smartphone or the maker of its operating system, the modifications that are made purely for the purpose of such interoperability are fair uses.
A second victory is for remixers. The new rule holds that amateur creators do not violate the DMCA when they use short excerpts from DVDs in order to create new, noncommercial works for purposes of criticism or comment if they believe that circumvention is necessary to fulfill that purpose. Hollywood has historically taken the view that “ripping” DVDs is always a violation of the DMCA, no matter the purpose.
Noncommercial videos are a powerful art form online, and many use short clips from popular movies. Finally the creative people that make those videos won’t have to worry that they are breaking the law in the process, even though their works are clearly fair uses. That benefits everyone — from the artists themselves to those of us who enjoy watching the amazing works they create.
Corynne McSherry, EFF’s Senior Staff Attorney