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SherwinPK447 karma

The part of the law we're talking about here (section 1201(a)(1)) penalizes the person actually doing the circumvention themselves. That means you can get sued for money damages and get an injunction issued against you by a copyright holder or another private party.

There are criminal penalties also possible, if you're doing the circumvention for "commercial advantage or private financial gain," including fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars and jail time, capped at 5 or 10 years.

Other sections of the law (sections 1201(a)(2) and 1201(b)), keep people from making the tools that let others circumvent.

EDIT for a link to section 1201 EDIT again: the civil penalties are in section 1203 and the criminal penalties are in section 1204

SherwinPK112 karma

The process that's going on right now happens every 3 years--they call it the "triennial rulemaking." So the win we got last year was the overturning of the Copyright Office's rule from the last time. But every 3 years, it resets, and we have to make the case for unlocking again.

That's what we're doing now. The small win is to get these rights back again.

The big win is to change the law to make sure we never have to do that again. That's a longer fight, but one we're working on.

SherwinPK73 karma

No problem!

EFF is awesome; I work for (also awesome) Public Knowledge.

SherwinPK59 karma

There's a large body of law already devoted to allocating who is at fault when something goes wrong in a complex system. The point is to not prevent all experimentation in order to prevent accidents.

If you're hacking something, you already do have a legal responsibility for what you've done for it--but that responsibility isn't related to whoever made the thing--it;s related to whoever uses or is affected by it later.

If someone sues the manufacturer because they're hurt, not because of the product itself, but because of a hack you made, they're going to be able to put that blame on you, the hacker.

SherwinPK43 karma

Not all laws last forever. Laws passed by Congress (statutes) generally last until they're changed by Congress (unless they're overturned as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court). (Some laws will have "sunset" provisions in them--Congress can put time limits on them, but that's not what's going on here.)

But Congress will also pass laws that will leave the details to federal agencies. Basically, Congress says, "ok, we want laws that will lead to this result. Agency, write those laws." (There are boundaries on exactly how much Congress can delegate--they can't just abdicate their responsibility entirely--but that's a matter for a whole course on administrative law.)

Then the agency creates federal "rules." These are laws--they have the force of federal law, and can be overturned by the agency changing them again, or by Congress overruling them, or, again, if they're found by a court to violate Congress-passed laws or the Constitution.

In this case, the DMCA--a statute passed by Congress--says that the Library of Congress and Copyright Office have to make rules every three years.

Sorry for the over-long explanation.