We are iFixit and EFF and it's time to fix the DMCA. Let's take back our right to bypass DRM and unlock our phones. AMA
Why now: Every three years, the copyright office decides which freedoms we should have. Copyright law is shaping up to be the next big battleground in technology. It's fundamentally redefining ownership. Due to a terrible clause in the DMCA (section 1201), by default it's illegal to bypass digital locks on hardware that you own.
We've been chronicling the problems this is causing:
- The End of Ownership: Why You Need to Fight America’s Copyright Laws
- Forget the Cellphone Fight — We Should Be Allowed to Unlock Everything We Own
- WTF! It Should Not Be Illegal to Hack Your Own Car’s Computer
- E-Book Legal Restrictions Are Screwing Over Blind People (this article got republished in braille!)
- Why Cellphone Unlocking Could Soon Be Illegal Once Again
- Unintended Consequences: Fifteen Years under the DMCA
It's that time again and the Copyright Office has asked which freedoms they should grant! A whole bunch of friendly organizations have submitted requests for 27 exemptions, for everything from modding your car to fixing your tractor to reading e-books in braille and unlocking tablets. EFF has posted all the exemption requests here.
What you can do:
- Petition to repair your car (Seriously, we had to make a petition to let you do this!)
- Sign the Jailbreaking is not a crime petittion
But the most important thing you can do is to show the Copyright Office how the DMCA is hurting you or your business:
Kyle Wiens is the co-founder of iFixit and has been crusading to make it easier for people to fix things for over a decade. I've testified in front of the International Trade Commission, written hundreds of open source repair manuals, and campaigned online and in DC to pass the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act that re-legalized phone unlocking.
Parker Higgins directs copyright-related activism at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a badass non-profit fighting to make sure your civil liberties make it onto the web and into your devices intact. EFF has participated numerous times in the DMCA rulemaking, previously securing important exemptions such as jailbreaking of phones.
Sherwin Siy from Public Knowledge was instrumental in getting phone unlocking legalized and has filed an exemption request for using the feedstock of your choice in 3D printers and another for ripping your DVDs to your iPads/tablets. He also wants to plug another proposed exemption for unlocking data from medical devices. Sherwin Update 11:30: I'm going to step out a bit, I'll check in later. OK, folks, I'm going to step out for a bit. The Copyright Office wants us to prove to it that moving a move from a DVD to an iPad isn't illegal, so I'm off to dig up all the stuff from the history of the Copyright Act, through the Sony Betamax decision, through this year's Fox v. Dish case. I'll try to stop by later to pick up any stray questions, but thanks everyone for the great chat--and especially Parker and Kyle for letting me butt in! PS: The structure of the DMCA makes me mad because it allows twisted applications of the law, but its restrictions also means something to me personally, in exemptions that PK didn't suggest.
Update: Great job, everyone! We gathered 1960 comments to send to the Copyright Office. Boy will they be excited to get them. Keep them coming until February 6, and make them as personal + detailed as you can!