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EFF seeks shelter for remixers, unlockers & jailbreakers

EFF seeks shelter for remixers, unlockers & jailbreakers

Yesterday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a pair of petitions with the US Copyright Office seeking a redress of penalty for users seeking to rip DVDs for remixing, jailbreak their phone for carrier-unauthorized applications, or unlock a phone for multi-carrier use.

The EFF alleges that these tasks do not inherently violate copyright law, but do in fact run afoul of the DMCA which protects against the circumvention of digital protection measures. The EFF claims that the described tasks should fall under fair use privileges outlined in existing US copyright law.

More explicitly, the three protections requested by the EFF are as follows:

  • Noncommercial video creators (like YouTubers and vidders) who rip DVDs in order to use clips for fair use remixes;
  • Cell phone owners who want to unlock their phones to use them on cellular networks of their choosing;
  • Cell phone owners who want to “jailbreak” their phones in order to use applications of their choosing (e.g., iPhone owners who want apps from sources other than the iTunes App Store).

In regards to non-commercial DVD ripping, the EFF points out that documental and educational films compiled from DVD sources still violate the DMCA. Despite the fact that these remixes would pass the four factors of fair use analysis, breaking a DVD’s CSS encryption standard to complete the product is a felonious act. The Foundation asserts that these remixed videos represent the newest generation of an American’s freedom to express.

On phones, the EFF claims that carrier locks do not protect copyrights, but instead anti-competitively serve to discourage a switch to another carrier. The more recent application locks as found on the iPhone are believed to be anti-competitive because it guarantees that all potential application profit is funneled back to a single entity in control of the process. The EFF hopes to abolish these practices to protect a customer’s “freedom to tinker.”

Other petitions filed with the EFF’s include the legalization of academic research into DRM technologies (SecuROM) and the legalization of circumventing copyright protection on DRMed songs that have been abandoned by authentication servers.


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