Monday, December 5th 2011
Last year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) successfully lobbied to make the jailbreaking of smartphones a legal exemption in the DMCA, much to the displeasure of Steve Jobs, who wanted to keep total control over what users could do with their expensive gadgets, but no longer could. Now, in a totally unsurprising and welcome move for ordinary consumers everywhere, the EFF have explained in a press release what the DMCA was supposed to do, how it can be misused and what they plan to do about it:
"The DMCA is supposed to block copyright infringement. But instead it can be misused to threaten creators, innovators, and consumers, discouraging them from making full and fair use of their own property," said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "Hobbyists and tinkerers who want to modify their phones or video game consoles to run software programs of their choice deserve protection under the law. So do artists and critics who use short excerpts of video content to create new works of commentary and criticism. Copyright law shouldn't be stifling such uses – it should be encouraging them."Then they explained how they want to expand the scope of the exemption to cover more devices:
"We were thrilled that EFF won important exemptions to the DMCA in the last rulemaking," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "But technology has evolved over the last three years, and so it's important to expand these exemptions to cover the real-world uses of smartphones, tablets, video game consoles, DVDs, and video downloads.One can question why an expansion is needed at all though. Since all these devices work digitally and have related functionality, which is to process sound and video in some way, it's not completely clear why separate exemptions are needed for consoles and tablets when an exemption has already been established for smartphones. However, if successful, it will make the imposition on the ordinary consumer of draconian and ineffective DRM schemes by big corporations against the war on "piracy" even more futile. Perhaps the whole misbegotten DMCA will be repealed in time?