Copyright Office recommends permanently legalizing right to repair

Jason Koebler’s write up at Motherboard explains that the Copyright Office is essentially tired of granting the same exemption to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention clause for the right to repair locked down devices. If adopted, this would be a substantial win for copyright reform and suggests that the increasing activity in petitions for exemptions every three years could lead to further permanent reforms. Here’s to hoping.
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feeds | grep links > Rig for Recording the Police, Feds Seek to Block XBox Hacker’s Testimony, and More

Feeling under the weather so just a few interesting links offered without comment.

Following Up for the Week Ending 9/5/2010

feeds | grep links > RIAA Says DMCA Not Working (Hard Enough for Them), Jury Invalidates EFF’s Top Patent, Proposed Apple Spyware Goes Too Far, and More

  • Apple seeking to patent spyware and traitorware
    I have to agree with the incredulous tone in EFF’s analysis of Apple’s patent application. This goes well beyond anti-theft measures, none of the included techniques are worth it for a phone no matter how expensive or the risk of a breach of personal info. Simple encryption would be a more suitable solution for the latter and insuring the device if it is that important the former. I am really far more concerned about the potential privacy implications than Apple using this as some sort of spite based DRM to increase the pain of jail breaking a device despite it now being authorized under the DMCA section 2101 rulemaking.
  • Jury invalidates one of EFF’s “Most Wanted” patents
  • Google Marketplace DRM cracked
    As the Register explains, the break was relatively simple predicated on the ease of de-compiling Java bytecode. To be more specific, as they clarify if you read the article, the DRM itself actually has not be broken but the application code that uses the simple affirmative or negative response from the platform can be re-engineered to essentially ignore the secure check. Each app would then have to be broken in turn but the break would hold for all copies of the cracked version.
  • The RIAA may have hurt its own arguments against innocent infringement
  • RIAA pushing to eliminate DMCA safe harbors
    Mike Masnick at Techdirt does an excellent job digging out what might otherwise be a confusing claim made in the course of this story, that the RIAA doesn’t think the DMCA is working. Clearly, what they think is a failure is the small and flawed free speech safety valve of safe harbors from liability for ISPs. Their reasoning tends to the absurd, that because the trade association cannot monitor enough traffic to reach whatever its current goals are in curbing infringement through DMCA takedown requests, they think the law should be re-written to directly deputize ISPs to do their enforcement work for them.

Following Up for the Week Ending 8/25/2010

TCLP 2010-08-01 News

This is news cast 220, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In the intro, an apology for missing the last two shows, though I had good reason. I will be in San Francisco from August 9th to the 11th for Cassandra Summit and a training day. If anyone is interested in a meet up Monday or Tuesday night, let me know. And if you don’t read the web site, I am a finalist for a Parsec award.

This week’s security alerts are Apple fixes the autofill bug in Safari that I didn’t get to discuss last week and AT&T said it wouldn’t interfere with a Black Hat demo and was true to its word.

In this week’s news EFF wins three DMCA exemptions with deeper analysis from both them and Public Knowledge. There were two additional exemptions granted and many others that were not. I get why most of the coverage is so positive but I cannot help but give voice to my inner cynic. Also, the Senate prepares privacy legislation as industry discusses self regulation, a couple of stories about e-books in developing nations, and Slashdot is losing relevance on the social web.

Following up this week Al Franken frames net neutrality as key free speech issue and Canadian C-32 is clearly following the US DMCA.


View the detailed show notes online. You can also grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

feeds | grep links > Data Sorting World Record, Reining In DMCA Takedowns, and More

  • Data sorting record: 1TB, 1 minute
    HT [si]dragon.
  • Latest in Perfect 10 case rejects sloppy takedown notices
    As the EFF explains, this is a small victory in shifting the burden back onto those issuing complaints. The post has some background on the case against Google as well as the clarification by the judge on shoddy, poorly constructed requests being insufficient to prompt a takedown. The even better news is the ruling on some of the notices is not unique though it certainly adds weight for future judicial consideration.
  • FTC wants browsers to block online tracking
  • White House seeking expansion of National Security Letters
    Slashdot links to a Washington Post article explaining the sought after broadening of an already problematic executive power. The White House wants to add “electronic communication transactional records” to the data that can be collected, without a warrant, under one of these letters. Unfortunately, that term is legally vague, not being clearly defined in the relevant laws.

What the DMCA Exemption Rulemaking Left Out

I am saving my reading and comments on the section 1201 rulemaking for this weekend’s news cast. In the meantime, here is an interesting post by Mike Masnick at Techdirt. The biggie, the one PJ at Groklaw also pointed out in her news picks yesterday too, is the sustained rejection of an exemption for accessing video content, both on disc and streaming, if there exists no lawful way to unlock it on a given platform, e.g. on Linux.

It’s an uncomfortable rejection as I can see both sides. I don’t want to have to forego my operating system of choice just to partake of certain creative works but giving Linux a pass discourages its developers, and those for other platforms, from seeking licenses in the first place. It would also create an unintended all piracy, all the time lane to the internet.

My sense is section 1201 is simply too blunt a tool to accommodate the stipulations of open source and free software licenses with the reality of acquiring a commercial license to systems like CSS for DVD and AACS/BD+ for Blu-ray.

So What DMCA Exemption Requests Got Rejected? Techdirt

Understanding the MGE DMCA Ruling

The story about a ruling in the MGE case crossed my feeds yesterday but I was too frazzled to dig into it and comment. That was an oversight, this ruling could have farther ranging impacts, restoring some of the non-infringing uses that the DMCA stripped out of copyright on digital works with its anti-circumvention provision.

Mike Masnick at Techdirt has a good summary of the facts of the case and the critical nuances in the ruling. Unfortunately, breaking DRM for any reason is still forbidden but the ruling allows for using a pre-existing tool or break to circumvent, clearly distinguishing it from the activities of hackers like DVD Jon. If a means of getting past the digital locks already exists and the use to which you put the work is non-infringing, you now have a better chance of evading a nasty DMCA hammer blow.

Creating circumvention tools and trafficking them is still barred by the DMCA. Even if you have the knowledge to crack DRM on the spot, that is also still illegal. That is actually a very significant narrowing of the the scope of the DMCA which previous to this ruling was subject to much more blatant exceptions like debunking claims that a printer cartridge or garage door opener qualify as copyrightable works. The ruling is also limited to the Fifth Circuit but occasionally judges in other circuits will read precedents from other circuits so there is a chance this interpretation of the DMCA may spread.

The debate around the latest Canadian copyright bill, C-32, borrowing even more heavily from the DMCA than past drafts, has given me reasons to think more on DRM lately. It has been easy to become a bit complacent as the music industry has effectively abandoned DRM but it still carries the same legal threat it ever did. If C-32 passes, Canada will get any number of progressive privileges for digital content–except if a work is protected by DRM. This really pushes on the question of why digital content should be handled with such exceptionalism.

I’ve been wondering about a more reasonable compromise, assuming we’ll never be able to purge DRM from the law books. What if we could re-cast it, through an amendment to the DMCA, to treat it like registration. If you break a lock and make non-infringing use of the work, then there is no room for complaint. If your use runs afoul of the more traditional contours of copyright and a digital lock had to be broken to do it, how about doubling or trebling damages, then and only then?

DRM as an absolute means of protection is an abject failure. There are tons of technical and non-technical reasons for this but the fact remains that DRM has yet to stop anyone from accessing a work for legitimate or illegitimate purposes. If we are stuck with it, why not use it then to bolster claims of willful infringement rather than turning innocuous uses such as exercising our every diminishing free speech privileges under copyright into a criminal act?