If you break the law, affected copyright holders can sue you. That's supposed to stop hackers from, say, making 10,000 copies of Iron Man 3 and selling them in China. But "this ends up covering a lot of behavior that doesn't have anything to do with [copyright] infringement," explains Parker Higgins, an activist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that backs free speech, privacy, and consumer rights on the internet. Otherwise legal acts—such as unlocking an old cellphone to give it to a friend—are technically forbidden under today's copyright law because they require getting around software copyright protections. The Unlocking Technology Act would change that by legalizing software tampering as long it doesn't "facilitate the infringement of a copyright." That means that as long as you don't manipulate software with the intention of doing something illegal, you'd be protected. Selling bootleg copies of Iron Man 3 would still be illegal; backing up the movie for your own personal use wouldn't be.
Thursday, May 16, 2013