Feeds

US Copyright Office approves phone jailbreaking and video remixes

Tablets and consoles still locked down

SANS - Survey on application security programs

The US Copyright Office has published the latest exceptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and it's good news for phone jailbreakers and video remixers, who are now legal – well, until 2015, at least.

The terms of DMCA lockdowns are reviewed every three years, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is claiming victory after it successfully petitioned for exemptions in the current round of changes.

In particular, the EFF asked that owners of smartphones, tablets, and games consoles should be allowed to do what they like with the devices they purchase, changing the operating system or software to suit themselves. In a partial victory for those owners, the Copyright Office ruled that smartphones can legally be jailbroken, which is good news for modders. But if you own a fondleslab, you're out of luck.

"The Register concluded that the record did not support an extension of the exemption to 'tablet' devices," the ruling said. "The Register found significant merit to the opposition's concerns that this aspect of the proposed class was broad and ill-defined, as a wide range of devices might be considered 'tablets,' notwithstanding the significant distinctions among them in terms of the way they operate, their intended purposes, and the nature of the applications they can accommodate."

In legalese, this means that someone in government can't decide exactly what a tablet is. Clearly the combined adverting and market segmentation efforts of Apple, Android, and Microsoft haven't had much of an impact on the fusty folks at the Copyright Office.

"If you bought your gadget, you own it, and you should be able to install whatever software you please without facing potential legal threats," said EFF senior staff attorney Marcia Hofmann in a statement.

"We're pleased the Copyright Office renewed our smartphone jailbreaking exemption request, but we're disappointed that it couldn't see that consumers deserve the same rights for all the gadgets they own. We'll be back with more exemption requests in the next rulemaking, and we're hopeful the Copyright Office will keep moving in the right direction."

The smartphone ruling came despite representations from the Wireless Asociation, formerly the Cellular Telephone Industry Association (CTIA). It argued that jailbreaking should not be allowed because users buy handsets, but don't necessarily own the software that runs them. The industry pressure group also warned that jailbreaking broke the current business model of operators subsidizing handsets.

Games console owners who want to tinker are also going to be stymied. The Copyright Office report records that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and Sony "vigorously opposed" jailbreaking, saying consoles are "the center of an intellectual property ecosystem." Those objections seem to have worked, with the new ruling saying there was no compelling case for allowing console jailbreaking.

In a move guaranteed to delight video editors and the creators of cute cat or child videos the Copyright Office ruled that it is legal to use music or clips from copyright media for personal or educational use. Politicians will also love this for their campaign clips.

"Remix videos are thriving on YouTube and other sites, offering dynamic criticism and commentary on popular movies as well as popular culture," said EFF Intellectual Property director Corynne McSherry. "It's a great example of how new technologies foster free expression, yet the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA endanger these important works," .

"We're thrilled that the Copyright Office broke new ground in protecting remix artists," she said. "We can't let misguided federal law block a new form of art and expression." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Reprieve for Weev: Court disowns AT&T hacker's conviction
Appeals court strikes down landmark sentence
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.