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 for many years, and has secured exemptions for device unlocking, jailbreaking, ripping videos for remix, and more. In the 2018 proceeding, we're requesting exemptions for:
- Repair, diagnosis, and tinkering with any software-enabled device, including “Internet of Things” devices, appliances, computers, peripherals, toys, vehicle, and environmental automation systems;
- Jailbreaking personal computing devices, including smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and personal assistant devices like the Amazon Echo and the forthcoming Apple HomePod;
- Using excerpts from video discs or streaming video for criticism or commentary, without the narrow limitations on users (noncommercial vidders, documentary filmmakers, certain students) that the Copyright Office now imposes;
- Security research on software of all kinds, which can be found in consumer electronics, medical devices, vehicles, and more;
- Lawful uses of video encrypted using High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP, which is applied to content sent over the HDMI cables used by home video equipment).
Over the next few months, we’ll be presenting evidence to the Copyright Office to support these exemptions. We’ll also be supporting other exemptions, including one for vehicle maintenance and repair that was proposed by the Auto Care Association and the Consumer Technology Association.
Many other organizations have filed exemption requests as well. Here’s a full list of the exemption proposals.