Jailbreaking is a right, not a crime

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has kicked off a campaign to maintain and expand exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in an effort to protect jailbreakers and video remixers.

”The DMCA is supposed to block copyright infringement, but it’s been misused to threaten tinkerers and users who just want to make their devices more secure and more functional,” explained EFF Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann.

“The U.S. Copyright Office should hear from concerned Americans who want to run software of their choice on the gadgets of their choice.”

As you may recall, the critical exemptions EFF won for smartphones and remix videos in 2010 are due to expire if they are not renewed.

As such, the EFF recently urged the Copyright Office to not only renew the exemptions, but expand them. 

Specifically, the EFF asked the office to protect the jailbreaking of smartphones, electronic tablets, and video game systems – freeing them to run operating systems and applications from any source. The EFF  also requested legal protections for artists and critics who use excerpts from DVDs or Internet video services to create new, remixed works.

In response, the Copyright Office is asking for public comment on the proposed exemptions. You can help keep jailbreaking legal by signing a letter written by author and hacker bunnie Huang, which advocates expanded jailbreaking exemptions to protect security researchers and other modders. For the Rip. Mix. Make. Campaign, you can join video artist, educator, and author Kirby Ferguson in calling for wider exemptions for breaking video encryption for creative purposes.

Both campaigns are part of the official comment period of the Copyright Office’s rulemaking process, convened every three years to consider exemptions to the DMCA’s prohibitions on “circumventing” digital rights management and “other technical protection measures” used to protect copyrighted works. 

In passing the DMCA, Congress allowed the Copyright Office to create certain types of exemptions to help mitigate the harms the law causes to legitimate, non-infringing use of copyrighted materials.

“Overreaching copyright law can hurt Americans’ free expression and innovation rights. That’s what we are fighting in Congress with the Internet blacklist bills like SOPA and PIPA, and it’s what we are fighting here,” said EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz.

“Please help Kirby defend the right to rip, mix, and make, and join bunnie in telling the Copyright Office that jailbreaking is not a crime.”