Once every three years, the copyright office considers proposed exemptions to the DMCA’s forbidding of attempts to circumvent Digital Rights Management (DRM) protections. Yesterday at 5pm was the deadline for this cycle’s bids.
And there have been some really interesting ones.
Some Berkman folks have asked for the right to Hack the Dead, although they don’t put it like that. If you have software that checks on line to make sure you are authorized to use it, and if the company has now gone out of business, you can no longer use stuff you paid for. So, the Berkman team has proposed that in those circumstances, hackers should be allowed to hack your content free of the dead grip of the defunct business. Chris Soghoian, one of the petitioners, explains it well.
Chris also explains some of the other 18 requests for exemption, including an EFF (did you remember to join?) request to allow users to jailbreak their iPhones so they can run software that Apple has not approved, and a request to allow academics to hack DRM’ed DVD’s to make compilations that are legit under the Fair Use exemption.
Unfortunately, it’s likely that the copyright office will emerge from its three year slumbers, see its own shadow, and put its head straight back up its own rectum.
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