On Monday, the Digital Reader revealed (confirmed in detail by Ars Technica here that Adobe’s ebook reader, Adobe Digital Editions, was reporting the reading habits of its users, and the contents of their digital libraries, to Adobe.
Public Knowledge is participating in the “International Day against DRM” where groups around the world are discussing the problems with Digital Rights Management, known commonly as DRM. As manufacturers attempt to sneak DRM into more and more products, it is important to remember the ways that DRM limit your right to make use of what you purchase.
At a hearing on unlocking phones, some suggest that
Congress added laws against circumventing access controls not just to fight
piracy, but in order to protect particular business models. Businesses use this
argument to justify using copyright law to criminalize activities that don't
actually infringe copyright.
Up until last year, unlocking a cell phone so that it could
be used with a different carrier was perfectly legal. That changed when the
Librarian of Congress decided no longer to include it in a list of exceptions
to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which forbids the circumvention
of technology that controls access to copyrighted works. The Librarian's
decision has sparked a great deal of controversy, and lead to several proposed
bills that would once again make it legal to unlock cell phones. In a hearing
before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and
the Internet last Thursday, Congress heard testimony about one of these bills,
and about the practice of unlocking phones.
Subcommittee Vice Chairman Tom Marino began the hearing by
framing the considerations on each side in terms of their effect on the market
and existing business models, pitting the promise of a more competitive
marketplace that phone unlocking allows against the ability of carriers to
recover the cost of subsidizing phones.
Today, we sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, asking them to pass a strong, permanent fix to the cell phone unlocking problem, and to take a deeper look at the problems caused by the anticircumvention provisions of the DMCA. The letter, available here, is signed by over thirty consumer groups, companies, and online communities, and joined by a number of academics and activists.
We want to make sure that all of the people who were upset that the DMCA could prevent them from unlocking their phones get a solution that actually fixes the problem by changing the law, not just reversing the Library of Congress's decision and waiting for a do-over a few years from now.
It's no longer a debate: people recognize that the anticircumvention provisions of the DMCA are flawed. Insofar as they keep people from doing things like unlocking their cell phones, over 100,000 people and the White House have said so, members of Congress have said so, and the FCC has said so. There's also widespread recognition that the DMCA as a whole needs reevaluation, which the Register of Copyrights recognizes.
So why are we seeing simultaneous efforts to double down on enforcing a defective law?