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You are here: Home Blogs Licensing Keep the pressure on the White House and US Copyright Office to fix anti-circumvention provisions

Keep the pressure on the White House and US Copyright Office to fix anti-circumvention provisions

by Donald Robertson Contributions Published on Feb 13, 2013 06:54 PM
When the Copyright Office announced its updated DMCA exemptions list, we were saddened to find that the office had abdicated its duty on multiple fronts. While that sad result was announced back in October, the downgraded exemptions list has just now come into effect. We need your voice in this fight.

Back in October we had written about the Copyright Office's failure to protect users from the DMCA's unjust anti-circumvention provisions. When the Copyright Office announced its updated DMCA exemptions list, we were saddened to find that the office had abdicated its duty on multiple fronts. From letting protections on the unlocking of phones expire, to failing to expand exemptions to tablets or gaming devices, the office left a cork in this important safety valve.

While that sad result was announced back in October, the downgraded exemptions list has just now come into effect. As of January 26th, 2013, carrier-unlocking your own cell phone is no longer protected from the DMCA's harmful reach. Anyone caught trying to unlock a phone could face "up to $2,500 per unlocked phone in a civil suit, and $500,000 or five years in prison in a criminal case where the unlocking is done for 'commercial advantage.'"1

And while you can still "jailbreak" your phone to install free software like Replicant, the same cannot necessarily be said for your tablet or gaming device. The Copyright Office declined to extend DMCA exemptions to tablets, stating that they were not sure what a tablet was. Hopefully users will be able to figure out what tablets are, because whether your installation of Replicant is protected or not may depend on whether you install it on a phone or a tablet. This is an absurd outcome, particularly considering Microsoft's current attempts at locking down an entire generation of ARM tablet devices.

On Thursday, February 14th, President Obama will be taking questions from the public. Our friends at Public Knowledge are rallying to get a question to him requesting support for a change in the law to protect users' rights "to use the devices and digital media that they have already paid for, however they like, and for their own personal use." While we need even more than this, we join Public Knowledge in encouraging the President to address this question and begin the process of fixing the DMCA's draconian provisions.

We hope that President Obama will address this issue, but more needs to be done. We need your voice in this fight. Here is what you can do to help:

1 Mitch Stoltz, Is It Illegal To Unlock a Phone? The Situation is Better - and Worse - Than You Think, Deep Links, January 28, 2013, https://www.eff.org/is-it-illegal-to-unlock-a-phone.

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