A federal judge has ruled that litigation can go forward to determine whether Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act violates the First Amendment as applied. EFF brought this litigation on behalf of security researcher Matt Green, technologist bunnie Huang, and bunnie's company Alphamax, in order to vindicate the right to speak, learn, and innovate despite this overly-broad and harmful law.
Originally passed to combat infringement, the sweeping language of Section 1201 allowed courts to interpret its provisions to leave out critical speech protections such as the fair use doctrine. This has interfered with educational uses of copyrighted works, accessibility, security research, remix art, and even your ability to repair your own car or tractor.
The ruling is a mixed bag. While the "as-applied" First Amendment claims will go forward, the court did not agree that rulemaking by the Librarian of Congress is subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act, even when the Librarian is performing an executive branch function rather than a congressional one. The court also did not agree that the Librarian's rulemaking is subject to the First Amendment scrutiny that applies when a government official is making determinations about what speech to permit. Finally, the court saw no need to adjudicate the claims that Section 1201 is overly broad, because it concluded that determining the constitutionality of the statute as applied to the plaintiffs will turn on the same issues as with other potential targets of the law.
The bottom line is that the case is going forward and we will continue the fight to help you understand and modify the devices in your life and remix the culture we all share.