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DMCA Exemptions Desired To Hack iPhones, Remix DVDs 188

Posted by timothy
from the what's-on-the-shortlist dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For copyright activists, Christmas comes but once every three years: a chance to ask Santa for a new exemption to the much-hated Digital Millennium Copyright Act's prohibitions against hacking, reverse engineering and evasion of Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes protecting all kinds of digital works and electronic items. Judging from the list of 20 exemptions requested this year [19 shown], some in the cyber-law community are thinking big. The requests include the right to legally jailbreak iPhones in order to use third party software, university professors wishing to rip clips from DVDs for classroom use, YouTube users wishing to rip DVDs to make video mashups, a request to allow users to hack DRM protecting content from stores that have gone bankrupt or shut down, and a request to allow security researchers to reverse engineer video games with security flaws that put end-users at risk." Reader MistaE provides some more specific links to PDF versions: "Among the exemption proposals is a request from the Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic to allow circumvention of DRM protection when the central authorization server goes down, a request from the EFF to allow circumvention to install third party programs on phones, as well as a request for ripping DVDs for non-commercial purposes. There were also several narrow requests from educational institutions to rip DVDs for classroom practices."
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DMCA Exemptions Desired To Hack iPhones, Remix DVDs

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  • How about this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:06PM (#25978433) Homepage
    Make DRM breaking illegal only when there is criminal intent, such as to share reproductions with others or to sell bootlegs...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      but that makes too much sense!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by srussia (884021)

        but that makes too much sense!

        Not really. Wanting to share reproductions in no way constitutes "criminal intent".

    • by pitchpipe (708843) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:10PM (#25978483)
      It's a good goddam thing they be askin' The Santa instead of me, 'cause I'd break their fuckin' legs.

      Regards,

      Mafiaa

    • Re:How about this (Score:5, Insightful)

      by evanbd (210358) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:17PM (#25978571)

      Sharing reproductions is not necessarily copyright infringement. Copyright infringement is usually not a criminal matter. Using correct and precise terminology is important to having an informed debate, as opposed to losing without the debate happening by letting your opponents set the terms.

      Why is it that geeks have no trouble using the precise, correct terms when writing code, but so commonly fail to transfer that precision to other areas where it is equally important?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Smitty825 (114634)
        Maybe I've been coding at the wrong companies, but I've consistently seen geeks use bad terms for variable names, function names, and even comments!
        • Do not judge too quickly. I have seen terms used for variables and functions that made sense once upon a time but the program has morphed around it such that 'cvs blame' would indicate the original developer was picking words from the dictionary at random.

        • by syzler (748241)
          If the developers are writing comments then you are working at the right companies. I'd rather have a bad term or two used when commenting code than have no comments.
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Because our opponents in the RIAA are using an aimbot.

        most geeks frown on cheaters.

        • Aimbots would imply that they know exactly where their intended target is. I would consider it more like god mode with noclip and a BFG!
      • by Aladrin (926209)

        Why do you assume that the good coders are the same people who can't be precise when they are speaking?

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        "Copyright infringement is usually not a criminal matter."

        The trouble is, more and more there is a push (and seemingly some success) to make more and more and more copyright infringement cases prosecutable as a criminal offense.

      • Called the No Electronic Theft Act which makes non-fair use reproduction of copyrighted goods automatically a federal criminal offense? In other words, you're free to share a copy of a history program with your department at college. You share a copy of the latest DVD with your neighbor back home, you've just put yourself in line to have broken the NET Act.
      • by Miseph (979059)

        "Why is it that geeks have no trouble using the precise, correct terms when writing code, but so commonly fail to transfer that precision to other areas where it is equally important?"

        Because there is an infinite amount of knowledge to have, and only a finite amount of time in which to acquire. Many people on Slashdot have dedicated a lot of time and energy into learning how to write good strong code in a variety of languages, few have dedicated much time or energy at all into doing the same for legal docum

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      That would be just meaningless. And well, it will would render the anti-circumvention clause completely useless. That sounds like a very good reason to do it, I'm all for it.

    • Re:How about this (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:24PM (#25978645) Homepage Journal
      Most of those requests are stupid, and don't dig down to the core of the issue. They all are asking for special circumstances to do various fair-use related activities.

      The exception needs to be "except for in fair-use situations."

      Imagine ripping DVDs being illegal unless you're only going to make a mashup video for youtube? Sure that's part of fair-use, but if that's all you ask for, and that's what they grant, then we're all retarded. What the hell are these people thinking?

      So many times people try to fight fires at the top of the flames, and wonder why they never go out. Talk about slippery slopes, eh? See? We're fair! We can remove your right of second sales, because look- we agreed to dvd rips for youtube mashups only!

      GAAAAAWD! I get so angry. I need some pie brb.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by tbrex33 (1422101)
        Or how about allowing consumer to fully use the digital file they download in the first place? The problem with most DRM issues is that the provider of the content never really leaves what they are providing, but always seems to be along with the ride.
      • Re:How about this (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MistaE (776169) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:37PM (#25978857) Homepage
        Dude, I don't you get it.

        As far as our government is concerned right now, ripping DVDs IS illegal when doing so circumvents the CSS, which is a violation of the DMCA. Everything that is being asked for is CURRENTLY illegal under the DMCA, regardless of what you or many other wishful thinking nerds believe. I don't understand why asking for these exemptions are a slippery slope -- how can you give up rights that you currently don't have under the law?

        Now I understand your frustration, because it really is unfortunate that this is where we're at. But we don't succeed by ignoring the laws. We succeed by working with them, compromising, and then, hopefully, overcoming them with logic, common sense, and hopefully the backing of the American populace.

        For example, one of the exemptions listed was for Media Film Studies education. The exemption was granted in 2006 and was a boon to that academic industry. This year, they are arguing that their 2006 exemption was so successful and necessary that they are asking to expand the exemption to encompass even more uses. They used clear factual examples, compelling legal arguments, and logic to show the LOC that it is necessary to expand their rights, and I hope that they get it.

        To some (or most) these may seem like small potatoes sure, but they're a legitimate foot in the door. The odds of an exemption being granted that simply asks for something as broad as "everything that is under fair-use" is extremely unlikely. But, if we continue to succeed at these exemptions and show Washington that this is where the people are heading, this is what society needs, and these are the reasons why we are having issues, maybe that becomes one more brick in the wall to convince them that the DMCA is not a good idea.
        • As far as our government is concerned right now, ripping DVDs IS illegal when doing so circumvents the CSS, which is a violation of the DMCA.

          Really? I was under the impression, based on several readings, that it is not illegal to circumvent CSS for fair use purposes, but it _is_ illegal to help anyone do so, though instruction, software, etc. The upshot is that you have to be able to decrypt it yourself (i.e. find the key and code the decrypter). That is, of course, nearly impossible for the vast majority of people, which makes it effectively impossible without making it illegal.

          Hence, my ownership and use of AnyDVD - provided I use it for "fair

          • Re:How about this (Score:4, Interesting)

            by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:39PM (#25979833) Homepage Journal

            You're right, and so's the GP. The GP is right about how the law is written, but you're right about how the courts have chosen to interpret it.

            Luckily, some judges have seen fit to ignore the letter of the DMCA and given people the right to do what they should always have been allowed to do.

            Asking for these exemptions might cause the government to realize what total idiocy the DMCA is though.

            • We can always hope...

            • by nabsltd (1313397)

              You're right, and so's the GP. The GP is right about how the law is written, but you're right about how the courts have chosen to interpret it.

              No, the GP is not correct.

              The letter of the law specifically says that fair use is permitted and is not copyright infringement, even if the action would otherwise violate a portion of the DMCA:

              17 USC 1201(c)(1) Nothing in this section shall affect rights, remedies, limitations, or defenses to copyright infringement, including fair use, under this title.

              The DMCA was codified in Title 17, sections 1201-1205 of the United States Code (USC), and you can see by the text that anything otherwise permitted by Title 17 is not a violation of the DMCA portion.

              It all works out to "for fair use, you can violate the DMCA, but contributory infringement is not fair use". Contribut

        • Now I understand your frustration, because it really is unfortunate that this is where we're at. But we don't succeed by ignoring the laws. We succeed by working with them, compromising, and then, hopefully, overcoming them with logic, common sense, and hopefully the backing of the American populace.

          because we overcame prohibition by not drinking right?

          we overcame harsh labor conditions by not picketing and sometimes rioting right?

          we overcame racial prejudice by staying OUT of the white soup kitchens and bathrooms and saying "yes massa" when they told us to stop marching in protest on major cities, right?

          we overcame onerous british invasion of several generations of de-facto independence by NOT rising up in 1776, right?

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        Actually, you can shoot the water above the flames and put it out faster in most in house situations in a Grimwood's modified '3D attack strategy'.

        Anyways, this isn't just an exception per se it is the definition of the fair use for which the anti circumvention applies.

        The law says
        (B) The prohibition contained in subparagraph (A) shall not apply to persons who are users of a copyrighted work which is in a particular class of works, if such persons are, or are likely to be in the succeeding 3-year period, ad

        • . If you want more, like being able to buy a program to decode DVDs for fair use or the ability to unlock your TIVO or mod your Xbox to run Linux, then you need to lobby congress to change the laws (treaties forbid getting rid of it). That won't be too difficult if you have a good enough reason and don't stray into calling Disney or the RIAA evil and such.

          yeah, this moderate approach has worked over the past decade, with a preponderance of evidence which makes the MAFIAA's side of the argument look like the funniest segment of "world's dumbest criminals".

          The corruption is rife.

          there are 3 ways to get around this:

          -move your operation out of us jurisdiction
          -deliberately disobey the law and go underground
          -lock and load

          1 and 2 are much more reasonable and less ethically/legally risky than the third, but i'm sure if they enforce things strictly enough or get too

    • Even better (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:27PM (#25978699) Journal

      Make it legal, always, period.

      There are already laws against the criminal things you've suggested. I really don't see why it should also be illegal to break DRM with the intention of doing that -- why should the intention matter at all? Maybe you broke it with the intention of watching it on your Mythbox, and later got the idea (independently) of using the cracked version for something criminal?

      No, that's all needlessly vague and complex. If you want to make it hurt more to pirate stuff, change those laws -- which wasn't even a criminal offense until recently, but rather, a civil matter.

      Think about that -- it is a federal crime to crack the DRM. It's merely a civil offense to redistribute the music. One goes on your record, the other doesn't. WTF?!

      Tag says it all: justrepealit. Or, if you're going to ask for exemptions, don't ask for such pathetically small ones -- are iPhones mentioned specifically? Why can't I crack an iPod Touch, then?

      • Legislators love specific exceptions much more than just getting he law right generally in the first place. This is because they measure their output by quantity. They seem to think that the job of a good congressman is to pass a lot of bills, or better yet introduce a lot of bills that get passed. It's a miracle that anything gets voted down *at all*.

        It's not entirely their fault though. IMO, the ideal congressman sits on his ass all day because nothing needs changing. How many voters really feel the

        • This is because they measure their output by quantity.

          That's fine -- just measure it as a combined quantity of bills passed and bills repealed.

          Or measure it as a quantity of money you saved the taxpayers, or of people who have actually been positively affected by what you're doing.

          IMO, the ideal congressman sits on his ass all day because nothing needs changing.

          But do you actually believe nothing needs changing? Would you bother to vote for an incumbent if you were so content? You'd probably be much more interested in voting the bums out when you aren't content...

          I agree, in principle, but in practice, there's far too much broken, and it ta

        • Legislators... they measure their output by quantity. They seem to think that the job of a good congressman is to pass a lot of bills, or better yet introduce a lot of bills that get passed. It's a miracle that anything gets voted down *at all*.

          It's not entirely their fault though. IMO, the ideal congressman sits on his ass all day because nothing needs changing. How many voters really feel the same way.

          Repealing acts also require bills, and republicans could win virtually the entire 12-35 demographic if they promise to repeal this one.
          They seem to like repealing many other laws, so I don't see why this one should raise objections.

  • how about (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Coraon (1080675) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:14PM (#25978533)
    having the DMCA only apply when and if the person or persons infringing are intending to do so for a profit. That would make the DMCA a law I could get behind.
    • by qoncept (599709)
      That's pretty worthless. Who the hell is even a big player that is violating the DMCA and making money now? Why, if people could already distribute all of this content legally anyway, should the fact that someone is trying to make a profit be illegal?
    • by Scutter (18425)

      Even if you personally aren't making a profit, you could be impacting the profit of the copyright owner, which is the whole point of the DMCA.

      • Which is bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Moryath (553296) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:33PM (#25978777)

        If I put up a sign next to a shitty restaurant saying "Do not patronize restaurant X, the food is crap", that's my free speech right.

        If a city puts in a new highway that means less people drive down a service road that was previously the highway, and a number of businesses don't get as much impulse "I think I'll stop there" business, they either adapt or move or die, they don't get recompense.

        Nothing should be different with DRM. DRM is a method by which the companies try to infringe on the CONSUMER'S right to fair-use activities like space-shifting, nothing more. DRM itself should be illegal.

        • by srussia (884021)

          Nothing should be different with DRM. DRM is a method by which the companies try to infringe on the CONSUMER'S right to fair-use activities like space-shifting, nothing more. DRM itself should be illegal.

          Agree, except for the last part. Company X should be able DRM all they want, as there will always be Company Y that will not use it. Let the people decide who survives.

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          If I put up a sign next to a shitty restaurant saying "Do not patronize restaurant X, the food is crap", that's my free speech right.

          Assuming that you have the necessary permits to hang a sign and aren't trespassing to do it, it is still different because those are your words, not mine or someone else'. DRM would be me not letting you tresspass to do it.

          If a city puts in a new highway that means less people drive down a service road that was previously the highway, and a number of businesses don't get as

        • by Solandri (704621)

          Except controlling distribution of your creative work is a Constitutionally protected right:

          To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

          So to make your analogies work, it'd be like you setting up a large sign in front of a restaurant's doorway, blocking its customers and employees from entering - violating their right to operate and associate freely Or building the new highway

          • by Moryath (553296)

            Uhm, no.

            Congress gives you the right, legally speaking, to control commercial production of your intellectual property. That is, if you write a screenplay or theater play, or a book, or produce some other piece of art, you have the right to stop others from reproducing it unless you give them permission (possibly, but not always, in exchange for some form of restitution).

            What you do NOT have the right to do is block the public's fair-use privileges, such as quoting a limited portion of the work, space-shift

        • Nothing should be different with DRM. DRM is a method by which the companies try to infringe on the CONSUMER'S right to fair-use activities like space-shifting, nothing more. DRM itself should be illegal.

          On the contrary, the laws "protecting" drm from commercial circumvention should be repealed.

          Many proponents of DRM claim "the free market" will sort out whether people want DRM, carefully masking the fallacy that the DMCA makes it illegal for firms to provide remedies for this cancer.

          DRM did exist before the DMCA, for a very long time. The difference is companies could manufacture circumvention tools, so anybody who didn't want it could get rid of it.

          I'm by no means a free market fundamentalist, but in thi

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Not me. I would not only like it completely repealed, but a new law with the DMCA name on it passed that said if you protect your work technologically it loses copyright and enters the public domain.

      DRM is a useless fantasy. There is no reason for the law to protect useless fantasies.

      • What defines "protecting [my] work technologically"?

        If I only distribute a program in binary form, is that protecting it technologically? After all, you don't have access to my source code.

        If I only distribute lossy versions of music/movies, is that protecting them technologically? After all, you don't have the original lossless files used to create it, and are beholden to whatever quality level I used.

        If I use a firewall on my computer, is that protecting any work that I have on it technologically? After a

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by syzler (748241)
        How about changing the DMCA so that any copyright holder who uses DRM agrees to only a 17 year copyright term on the DRM encumbered work. If they want the longer (I.E. unreasonable) length term then they have to forego DRM.
        • by sumdumass (711423)

          I would go even further. I would require that any company employing DRM must ensure that the files, program, whatever is usable in non-infringement ways for the entire length of the copyright plus 20 years and if that is not possible, they must provide the ability to remove the DRM free of charge with no strings attached.

        • How about changing the DMCA so that any copyright holder who uses DRM agrees to only a 17 year copyright term on the DRM encumbered work. If they want the longer (I.E. unreasonable) length term then they have to forego DRM.

          The original term of copyright in the USA was 14 years plus another optional 14 if the author was (a) alive and (b) made the effort to renew. And there was no DRM.
          So, why should DRM users get any copyright at all? I say make it like trade-secret vs patents - if you want to keep it locked up, then you don't get copyright protection. Just like if you keep the details of your invention a secret, you don't get patent protection on it.

  • Too late to file? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by powerlord (28156) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:21PM (#25978613) Journal

    Is it too late for Psytar [macrumors.com] to file for an exemption? ~

    • We need exemptions for any software used to do the same type of stuff form cars to printer ink.

    • Was their plan to sell non-apple laptops with otherwise legitimate copies of OSX, or just to copy it a bunch of times over? "Pre-loaded" is a very suspicious software term.

      • You are getting / paying a copy of mac os x on each system. Dell and others per load images on there systems apple likely does the same thing as well.

      • Their plan (which they were actively implementing) was to sell desktops with legitimate copies of OSX. The only thing they did that was "wrong" was challenged the validity of that small piece of the EULA that states that you agree to only install the software on Apple hardware. Psystar's contention was that Apple's EULA stifled competition, and effectively was a monopoly in the OSX industry. This was shot down in court (I believe) as Psystar's definition of "industry" was deemed too narrow.

        Personally, I
  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:28PM (#25978727)

    add bypassing of hardware locks in software so people can BUY mac os x and run it on any system that they want. There also been other apps and that used other types of hardware lock in as well. Also add bypassing printer ink lock out chips used to keep 3rd party's out.

    You should also have the right to add bigger hd's to game consoles / drvs and other devices that try sell you there own hd size upgrades at very high cost.

    Smart phones also need to have the right to bypass any type of sim locks / network locks / even phone app network locks as well.

  • by gQuigs (913879) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:32PM (#25978773) Homepage

    Is someone at least requesting it?

    I suppose if we get an exception we could play both DVDs and BluRays on Linux.. legally. Well except for the codecs, but shh.

    • If they allow me to legally bypass CSS in order to watch the movies I own then what will I complain about?

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:35PM (#25978813)

    I'd want to expand on this one: "university professors wishing to rip clips from DVDs for classroom use"

    Make it: "Allow home users to rip DVDs for personal use"

    So if you rip the video off of the DVD to put it on your home media server, you're fine. If you rip a bunch of children's DVDs to compile a single DVD with your kid's favorite episodes, you're ok. Basically anything you do where the video doesn't leave your "personal zone" would be allowed. Things like sharing clips, classroom use, or YouTube mashups would be a separate exemption.

    Then, perhaps, we could get set top boxes that would take DVDs in, rip them to an internal hard drive, and allow home users to choose from hundreds or thousands of movies without handling any discs. As any parent with little kids will tell you, you want to keep the discs away from kids' hands, but keep them in reach enough that you can access them quickly and easily. A set top box like this would be ideal.

    • by WaXHeLL (452463)

      Didn't you read the article summary, where it says the EFF submitted a request for ripping DVDs for non-commercial use

    • This is in fact being asked for.

      Personally, I'd rather someone asked for the right to invalidate any digital Copyright system that violates the rest of Copyright as it stands. That is to say, a DRM system that doesn't allow personal backups would be invalid. A DRM system that won't let me pull out a clip of a song for a review would be invalidated too.

      I have nothing against DRM, IF it works within the confines of the law and my rights and that includes self-sacrificing the DRM layer when the law says that

  • by grandpa-geek (981017) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:36PM (#25979783)

    I've had two situations in which I had a legally-obtained older version of software for which the provider had dropped support, which included dropping support for the DRM built into the products.

    In one case, you had to call in, give them your product ID and get a DRM key. I wanted to move the product from an older machine to a newer one. I called in and they told me they had dropped support, including handling the DRM keys, and to buy their new product. The old product served my needs, and the new one had improvements that were useless to me. Luckily, one tech support person was nice and told me where I could find the DRM key value in the old installation, that I hadn't yet deleted. Had I needed to reinstall for any reason, I would have been stuck.

    In another case the DRM required either an internet connection or printer access during installation. This was not explained in the installation instructions. I was installing software on a new machine and hadn't yet set up either internet or printer. With that (early) DRM, if you didn't go through the procedure at installation time, there was no opportunity to do it later. The provider later came out with other versions and dropped support for this version. I moved on to using a FOSS product, so I never tried to resolve the issue, but I have a useless copy of that particular software. It didn't set me back any cost, because I had won a copy of the product in a drawing at a trade show booth for people who sat through a demo of something.

    If DRM support is dropped for a version of a product, it should be treated as an abandoned product, even if the DRM is maintained for later versions.

  • I have found a number of places where people have exaggerated the effect of DRM on their use cases far beyond reality. Others have quoted officers of corporations who were clearly lying about the reasons they made business decisions to restrict access, and attempting to direct the blame to other companies. I wish people wouldn't do this, because these errors of fact are clear to anyone with a reasonable familiarity with the situation, and cast any argument against DRM... even the many many valid ones... int

  • I would like to request this exemption: Let me do what I want with the things I paid for.

  • DIVX (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HTH NE1 (675604) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @06:49PM (#25981995)

    Among the exemption proposals is a request from the Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic to allow circumvention of DRM protection [copyright.gov] when the central authorization server goes down

    Which first lists Circuit City's Digital Video Express (DIVX) disks under "DRM-based Stores Have Failed In the Past":

    1. Circuit City's Digital Video Express (DIVX) Service
    2. Google Video Store
    3. Microsoft's MSN Music Store
    4. Yahoo Music
    5. Wal-Mart's Music Store

    I hope it includes allowing for the authorization of my lawfully purchased copy of DVD X Copy Gold which I didn't get activated before the company was served with a cease-and-desist. That would be sweet irony.

  • They're proposal is very similar to one I made here [slashdot.org] and at Content Agenda [contentagenda.com] (it's the last comment on the page) a month or two back. Their proposal seems much more detailed.

    I would've sworn that I submitted my version to copyright.gov, and got a confirmation, but I can't find any evidence of it now. Hopefully, it will be considered as an additional vote for this version.

  • The anti-circumvention clauses of the DMCA should be trashed altogether. The only reason they are there is to "guarantee" profit for big corporations, at the expense of innovation and even research.

    Anti-circumvention regulations have a chilling effect on education and small business, and form a defacto barrier to entry to competition in important areas of technology. Further, it drives business and innovation to take place in other nations that do not have such regulations.

    Like the encryption export r

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