This summer, the Copyright Office released a study on Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Section 1201 is the provision of the law that allows copyright owners to digitally lock you out of your own stuff, preventing everything from connecting your cellphone to a different carrier, to ripping your DVDs to your tablet, to accessing the diagnostic system in your car. We’ve long advocated for reforming this law which unnecessarily limits user rights, and actively participated in the Office’s study of Section 1201. The resulting report is less than we hoped for; while the Office has recommended some important and needed changes to the law and its application, it mostly leaves the law in place and has us asking what could have been. The report does, however, reveal something interesting about how the Copyright Office thinks about Section 1201--namely, when it chooses to believe (or not believe) the users.
The Supreme Court's recent decision in Packingham v. North Carolina struck down, as unconstitutional under the First Amendment, a state law making it a felony for registered sex offenders to access social media websites. The decision has wide-ranging potential implications for technology law, especially on matters of rights to access the internet, which are particularly important for marginalized and disenfranchised voices in our society. Below, Harold Feld reviews the Packingham decision and explores its implications for one area of law: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's provisions regarding termination of Internet access for accused copyright infringers. This post was originally posted on Harold's personal blog, "Tales of the Sausage Factory," on wetmachine.com.
Last weekend, left-wing candidate and political heir of President Rafael Correa Lenin Moreno was elected President of Ecuador. Now, President-elect Moreno has the opportunity to stop one of his predecessor’s most undemocratic practices: using copyright for political censorship. It’s time for some copyright glasnost, Lenin.
Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed suit against the Copyright Office and the Department of Justice, challenging the government’s enforcement of the technological controls imposed under Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Under this statute, the Librarian of Congress is charged with reviewing and granting exemptions when necessary to protect legitimate innovation, free expression, and other public interests. Among its other claims, EFF alleges that the Copyright Office -- which conducts this review on behalf of the Librarian -- has mismanaged the process and repeatedly failed to grant valid exemptions, in violation of the First Amendment and the Administrative Procedure Act.