San Francisco—On Tuesday and Wednesday, May 24-25, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Staff Attorney Kit Walsh and Senior Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz will participate in public roundtable discussions about the impact of U.S. copyright law on freedoms to investigate and improve the software embedded in everyday products, devices, and appliances.

The discussions, being held at University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, are hosted by the U.S. Copyright Office, which is studying copyright issues related to the “Internet of Things” and the consequences of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Section 1201, while intended to prevent infringement of copyrighted media, has also blocked people from accessing software that controls everything from their mobile phones and video games to cars and insulin pumps.

Section 1201 was enacted to combat copyright infringement of digital works by making it unlawful to circumvent access controls on those works, such as the encryption on a DVD. Because of the broad definition of a copyrighted work, however, Section 1201 gives legal teeth to manufacturers who want to lock product owners out of the ability to tinker with, repair, or modify their own software-enabled devices. The restrictions have also prevented independent researchers from evaluating the software in cars and other devices for impacts on security, safety, privacy, and even the environment.

At the roundtable discussions, Walsh will speak about how overly-broad copyright restrictions on everyday products combine with one-sided end user license agreements to frustrate user freedom, research, and innovation. Stoltz will speak about Section 1201's overreaching restriction on circumventing technologies that control devices and products, and the burdensome, every-three-year procedure to get exemptions from Section 1201.

U.S. Copyright Office Roundtables for Software-Enabled Computer Products and Section 1201 Studies

EFF Staff Attorney Kit Walsh
EFF Senor Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz

Tuesday, May 24, 9 am to 2:45 pm
Wednesday, May 25, 9 am to 4:15 pm

UC Hastings College of the Law
Alumni Reception Center
200 McAllister St.
San Francisco, CA 94102