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Why is Congress Expanding Enforcement of the DMCA?

March 26, 2013 DMCA , DRM , Enforcement

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?

Yesterday, Senators Baucus and Hatch introduced a hefty bill on trade issues.

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A Quick Guide to the Current Phone Unlocking Bills

March 22, 2013 DMCA , DRM , Internet Blueprint

As you probably know, there are currently three different proposals to make sure that you can unlock your phone, despite the Library of Congress’s thoughts on the matter.

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Cell Phone Unlocking Debate Highlights Trade Negotiation Process Problems

March 18, 2013 DRM , ITU , TPP

The issue of cell phone unlocking has been hot for the past month.  The White House response to the over 100,000 person petition to allow for the unlocking of cell phones has led to a flurry of legislative proposals in Congress and broad interest in a quick solution to the issue.

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No One’s “Signed Away” the Right to Unlock Cell Phones

March 14, 2013 DMCA , DRM , Forum Shopping , USTR

Several people have raised the specter of trade agreements standing in the way of cell phone unlocking. The basic idea is that, in a broad trade negotiation between the US and South Korea (and in a number of others), the two countries agreed to make sure their copyright laws had certain similar features. Among those were requirements that they have laws against breaking digital locks to access copyrighted works, and that they only have certain kinds of exemptions to them. Cell phone unlocking is not one of the specific exemptions.

Mike Masnick at Techdirt characterizes this (at least in the article’s title) as the US “signing away” its ability to enact a more permanent exemption for phone unlocking.

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Cell Phone Unlocking: The Root of the Problem (and Solution) is in Copyright

March 5, 2013 Copyright Office , DMCA , DRM , Internet Blueprint

Yesterday, the White House responded to a We the People petition on phone unlocking, stating that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones and tablets. This puts the administration in line with a large number of consumers who are upset that the Library of Congress refused to exempt phone unlocking (modifying phone software so consumers can use their phones with a different mobile phone company) from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA.”)

However, the White House statement doesn’t reverse the Library’s decision, and nothing in the statement seems to suggest that it plans to.

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