US Gov Extends Protection for Smartphone Jailbreaking, Video Remixing

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In a series of exceptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) published by the US government, the copyright office notes that users can modify the handset(s) they have procured and will be allowed to remove preinstalled access restrictions. Users resort to such “jailbreak” procedures to run software, which otherwise is not available through app stores of their handset’s operating platforms. The exceptions will be valid till the next review cycle i.e. until 2015, at least.

“This exemption is a modification of the proponents’ proposal. It permits the circumvention of computer programs on mobile phones to enable interoperability of non-vendorapproved software applications (often referred to as “jailbreaking”),” read the ruling [PDF].  However, tablets are not under the purview of this ruling and hence, not exempted. “[This exemption] does not apply to tablets – as had been requested by proponents – because the record did not support it.”

One of the main supporters of this petition, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has claimed victory for the successful yet partial exemptions in the current round of changes. The EFF along with New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative, New Media Rights, Mozilla Corporation and thousands of other supporters had asked that gadget owners should be allowed change their device i.e. change operating system or software as they require.

EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry said, “The DMCA creates a cloud of legal uncertainty over American consumers – whether they are tinkerers, artists, or just looking to make their gadgets work better.”

“The ruling from the Copyright Office today goes a long way towards mitigating some of the DMCA’s most grievous harms,” he added.

This wasn’t the only exemption granted as another extension allows users to post remixed videos on video sharing sites like YouTube. According to EFF, remixed videos were in fact original works by their creators and that they don’t violate copyrights.

Ravi is the founder of Parity Media and currently acting as an editor of ParityNews.com. He is a technology enthusiast with keen interest in information security. Ravi has over 6 years of experience and is keen on raising general awareness about technology in society.