The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) limits the circumvention of software that's designed to restrict access to copyrighted works. Unfortunately, such a blanket restriction can chill competition, free speech, and fair use. In an attempt to mitigate those harms, every three years the U.S. Copyright Office holds a rulemaking proceeding to consider exemptions to this rule.
EFF has participated in this rulemaking procedure in prior years, and has secured exemptions for device unlocking, jailbreaking, ripping videos for remix, and more. In the 2015 proceeding, we requested six exemptions in four separate categories: security research, as well as repairs and modifications, for cars; ripping of video from DVDs or BluRay disks, as well as online streaming services, for remixes; jailbreaking of phones and tables; and reconfiguration of video games that are no longer supported by their publisher.
Many other groups requested exemptions, and you can see them at the Copyright Office’s website here.
In October 2015, the Copyright Office granted our petitions for exemptions in ripping DVDs and Blurays for making fair use remixes and analysis; preserving video games and running multiplayer servers after publishers have abandoned them; jailbreaking cell phones, tablets, and other portable computing devices to run third party software; and security research and modification and repairs on cars. While some previous exemptions were expanded, the Copyright Office still disappointingly limited others.