SFC and EFF Unveiled DMCA Exceptions Achieved This Year

The human rights organizations of CFS (Freedom Conservancy Software) and the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) recently released the modifications in the "Digital Millennium Copyright Act" (DMCA) qwhich define the list of exceptions that are not subject to DMCA restrictions in access control technologies.

Since every three years, a special committee meets at the Library of Congress of the United States, which, during a public hearing, dDecide to review the list of exemptions that describe situations to which the DMCA may not apply.. This list is formed to protect against possible abuses and unreasonable restrictions that can be promoted under the guise of the DMCA, without being subject to copyright infringement.

The exceptions approved this year allow the installation of alternative firmwares on routers and other network devices (including jailbreak and bypass links to DRM firmware). The exception gives the user the option to extend the life of their device after the expiration of the manufacturer's support by installing an alternative firmware such as OpenWrt.

As well Exceptions passed allowing legal investigation of firmware of the device in order to identify and confirm a possible violation of copyleft licenses that require the opening of derivative works. The exception applies to all types of devices, except for game consoles.

Previously valid exclusions related to permission to unlock, change firmware, repair and install applications, regardless of whether they are approved by the manufacturer or not, previously in effect for smartphones (jailbreak), tablets and other mobile devices, have been expanded with respect to the possibility of completely replacing smart TV software.

The categories of devices for which there are exceptions have been expanded, which allows to carry out repairs independently. The Right to Repair project is pushing for waivers to repair any device, and has gotten closer to its goal this year. Amendments have been passed to allow the diagnosis, maintenance, and repair of any consumer device, including e-readers, record players, and smart speakers, as well as the repair of vehicles, boats, and medical devices.

For medical devices, both repair and recovery of data stored on your own device is allowed, regardless of whether the device is implanted or not.

The exceptions related to the decryption of DVD, Blu-Ray materials and online services have been expanded, used to compose remixes including individual video clips. The DMCA it also eliminated computer games and game consoles, whose manufacturers stopped supporting its products, now computer game fans can legally make changes to older game applications and game console firmware to avoid links to external game services and authentication servers. The exceptions have been expanded to allow the use of alternative materials in 3D printers.

A request to include privacy studies in an extended waiver was not granted, allowing security researchers to analyze software products to identify vulnerabilities and self-patch those found. The Commission concluded that such a change was unnecessary as privacy studies fall within the definition of security studies and do not require a separate exemption.

The amendments that allow the repair of game consoles were also not approved. (repair of game consoles is limited by the possibility of self-replacement of optical drives) and devices with firmware used for commercial or industrial purposes, with the exception of vehicles and medical devices. For example, self-repairing and changing the settings of a robot vacuum cleaner is considered illegal.

Among the unsolved issues, it is also noted that there are no exceptions for the distribution of tools used for repairs: the provision of utilities that bypass the manufacturer's locks is still considered illegal.

It is noted that the commission does not have the authority to adopt an exception on this issue, as it requires reform of the legislation. Thus, a situation arises where the user has been given the right to independently change the firmware and bypass the link to the peripheral devices on his Xbox, but to distribute the code to carry out such actions is illegal.

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