The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is asking the public to join the campaign to keep and widen exemptions EFF obtained in 2010 to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to help remove a cloud of legal uncertainty hanging over folks who modify electronic gadgets and make remix videos.
“The DMCA is supposed to block copyright infringement, but it’s been misused to threaten tinkerers and users who just want to make their devices more secure and more functional,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann in the press release. “The U.S. Copyright Office should hear from concerned Americans who want to run software of their choice on the gadgets of their choice.”
“The Internet has helped foster extraordinary and powerful new forms of commentary that rely, in part, on the ordinary activity of borrowing clips of news and popular culture,” said EFF IP Director Corynne McSherry in the press release. “This is part of our everyday political debate and should be protected by copyright law, not discouraged.”
The exemptions EFF won for smartphones and remix videos in 2010 will expire if they are not renewed. So in December, EFF filed comments urging the Copyright Office to not only renew the exemptions, but expand them. Specifically, EFF asked that the office protect the “jailbreaking” of smartphones, electronic tablets, and video game systems – freeing them to run operating systems and applications from any source. EFF also asked for legal protections for artists and critics who use excerpts from DVDs or Internet video services to create new, remixed works.
Now, the Copyright Office is asking for public comment on the proposed exemptions and EFF is seeking the public’s help. In EFF’s Jailbreaking Is Not a Crime campaign, you can sign a letter written by author and hacker bunnie Huang, advocating for expanded jailbreaking exemptions to protect security researchers and other tinkerers and innovators. In the Rip. Mix. Make. Campaign, you can join video artist, educator, and author Kirby Ferguson in calling for wider exemptions for breaking video encryption for creative purposes.
Both campaigns are part of the official comment period of the Copyright Office’s rulemaking process, convened every three years to consider exemptions to the DMCA’s prohibitions on “circumventing” digital rights management and “other technical protection measures” used to protect copyrighted works. In passing the DMCA, Congress allowed the Copyright Office to create certain kinds of exemptions to help mitigate the harms the law causes to legitimate, non-infringing use of copyrighted materials.
“Overreaching copyright law can hurt Americans’ free expression and innovation rights. That’s what we are fighting in Congress with the Internet blacklist bills like SOPA and PIPA, and it’s what we are fighting here,” said EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz in the press release. “Please help Kirby defend the right to rip, mix, and make, and join bunnie in telling the Copyright Office that jailbreaking is not a crime.”
For Jailbreaking Is Not a Crime:
For Rip. Mix. Make.: