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DMCA Exemptions Desired To Hack iPhones, Remix DVDs 188

Posted by timothy
from the what's-on-the-shortlist dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For copyright activists, Christmas comes but once every three years: a chance to ask Santa for a new exemption to the much-hated Digital Millennium Copyright Act's prohibitions against hacking, reverse engineering and evasion of Digital Rights Management (DRM) schemes protecting all kinds of digital works and electronic items. Judging from the list of 20 exemptions requested this year [19 shown], some in the cyber-law community are thinking big. The requests include the right to legally jailbreak iPhones in order to use third party software, university professors wishing to rip clips from DVDs for classroom use, YouTube users wishing to rip DVDs to make video mashups, a request to allow users to hack DRM protecting content from stores that have gone bankrupt or shut down, and a request to allow security researchers to reverse engineer video games with security flaws that put end-users at risk." Reader MistaE provides some more specific links to PDF versions: "Among the exemption proposals is a request from the Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic to allow circumvention of DRM protection when the central authorization server goes down, a request from the EFF to allow circumvention to install third party programs on phones, as well as a request for ripping DVDs for non-commercial purposes. There were also several narrow requests from educational institutions to rip DVDs for classroom practices."
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DMCA Exemptions Desired To Hack iPhones, Remix DVDs

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  • How about this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:06PM (#25978433) Homepage
    Make DRM breaking illegal only when there is criminal intent, such as to share reproductions with others or to sell bootlegs...
  • Re:How about this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by evanbd (210358) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:17PM (#25978571)

    Sharing reproductions is not necessarily copyright infringement. Copyright infringement is usually not a criminal matter. Using correct and precise terminology is important to having an informed debate, as opposed to losing without the debate happening by letting your opponents set the terms.

    Why is it that geeks have no trouble using the precise, correct terms when writing code, but so commonly fail to transfer that precision to other areas where it is equally important?

  • Re:Jailbreaking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:20PM (#25978599) Homepage Journal
    The act of circumventing ANY protection scheme is what the DMCA outlawed. Jailbreaking an Iphone could be construed as such.
  • Re:How about this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:24PM (#25978645) Homepage Journal
    Most of those requests are stupid, and don't dig down to the core of the issue. They all are asking for special circumstances to do various fair-use related activities.

    The exception needs to be "except for in fair-use situations."

    Imagine ripping DVDs being illegal unless you're only going to make a mashup video for youtube? Sure that's part of fair-use, but if that's all you ask for, and that's what they grant, then we're all retarded. What the hell are these people thinking?

    So many times people try to fight fires at the top of the flames, and wonder why they never go out. Talk about slippery slopes, eh? See? We're fair! We can remove your right of second sales, because look- we agreed to dvd rips for youtube mashups only!

    GAAAAAWD! I get so angry. I need some pie brb.
  • Even better (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:27PM (#25978699) Journal

    Make it legal, always, period.

    There are already laws against the criminal things you've suggested. I really don't see why it should also be illegal to break DRM with the intention of doing that -- why should the intention matter at all? Maybe you broke it with the intention of watching it on your Mythbox, and later got the idea (independently) of using the cracked version for something criminal?

    No, that's all needlessly vague and complex. If you want to make it hurt more to pirate stuff, change those laws -- which wasn't even a criminal offense until recently, but rather, a civil matter.

    Think about that -- it is a federal crime to crack the DRM. It's merely a civil offense to redistribute the music. One goes on your record, the other doesn't. WTF?!

    Tag says it all: justrepealit. Or, if you're going to ask for exemptions, don't ask for such pathetically small ones -- are iPhones mentioned specifically? Why can't I crack an iPod Touch, then?

  • Re:How about this (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tbrex33 (1422101) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:31PM (#25978761)
    Or how about allowing consumer to fully use the digital file they download in the first place? The problem with most DRM issues is that the provider of the content never really leaves what they are providing, but always seems to be along with the ride.
  • by gQuigs (913879) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:32PM (#25978773) Homepage

    Is someone at least requesting it?

    I suppose if we get an exception we could play both DVDs and BluRays on Linux.. legally. Well except for the codecs, but shh.

  • Which is bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moryath (553296) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:33PM (#25978777)

    If I put up a sign next to a shitty restaurant saying "Do not patronize restaurant X, the food is crap", that's my free speech right.

    If a city puts in a new highway that means less people drive down a service road that was previously the highway, and a number of businesses don't get as much impulse "I think I'll stop there" business, they either adapt or move or die, they don't get recompense.

    Nothing should be different with DRM. DRM is a method by which the companies try to infringe on the CONSUMER'S right to fair-use activities like space-shifting, nothing more. DRM itself should be illegal.

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:35PM (#25978813)

    I'd want to expand on this one: "university professors wishing to rip clips from DVDs for classroom use"

    Make it: "Allow home users to rip DVDs for personal use"

    So if you rip the video off of the DVD to put it on your home media server, you're fine. If you rip a bunch of children's DVDs to compile a single DVD with your kid's favorite episodes, you're ok. Basically anything you do where the video doesn't leave your "personal zone" would be allowed. Things like sharing clips, classroom use, or YouTube mashups would be a separate exemption.

    Then, perhaps, we could get set top boxes that would take DVDs in, rip them to an internal hard drive, and allow home users to choose from hundreds or thousands of movies without handling any discs. As any parent with little kids will tell you, you want to keep the discs away from kids' hands, but keep them in reach enough that you can access them quickly and easily. A set top box like this would be ideal.

  • Re:How about this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MistaE (776169) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:37PM (#25978857) Homepage
    Dude, I don't you get it.

    As far as our government is concerned right now, ripping DVDs IS illegal when doing so circumvents the CSS, which is a violation of the DMCA. Everything that is being asked for is CURRENTLY illegal under the DMCA, regardless of what you or many other wishful thinking nerds believe. I don't understand why asking for these exemptions are a slippery slope -- how can you give up rights that you currently don't have under the law?

    Now I understand your frustration, because it really is unfortunate that this is where we're at. But we don't succeed by ignoring the laws. We succeed by working with them, compromising, and then, hopefully, overcoming them with logic, common sense, and hopefully the backing of the American populace.

    For example, one of the exemptions listed was for Media Film Studies education. The exemption was granted in 2006 and was a boon to that academic industry. This year, they are arguing that their 2006 exemption was so successful and necessary that they are asking to expand the exemption to encompass even more uses. They used clear factual examples, compelling legal arguments, and logic to show the LOC that it is necessary to expand their rights, and I hope that they get it.

    To some (or most) these may seem like small potatoes sure, but they're a legitimate foot in the door. The odds of an exemption being granted that simply asks for something as broad as "everything that is under fair-use" is extremely unlikely. But, if we continue to succeed at these exemptions and show Washington that this is where the people are heading, this is what society needs, and these are the reasons why we are having issues, maybe that becomes one more brick in the wall to convince them that the DMCA is not a good idea.
  • by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:43PM (#25978939)

    Do you want to do your job for free? Do you want to not get paid for any work you do? If not, then you support copyright restrictions. Because violation of copyright is exactly the same thing as hiring someone but not paying them.

    I get paid when I work. I don't get paid today because I worked 4 years ago for one week, and people still benefit [sic] from what I did. Violation of copyright says "You did you job, good job. Now get over it and get BACK to work like the rest of mankind!" and not "I don't think you should get paid for what you do."

    I have zero sympathy for those untalented hacks who spent a whole week in a recording studio and now want me to feed them, their whores, and their children for the rest of their pathetic lives. If they want to eat, they need to go out and win bread like the rest of us!

  • Re:How about this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by srussia (884021) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @04:32PM (#25979705)

    but that makes too much sense!

    Not really. Wanting to share reproductions in no way constitutes "criminal intent".

  • by uncreativeslashnick (1130315) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:03PM (#25980261)
    I get paid when I work. I don't get paid today because I worked 4 years ago for one week, and people still benefit [sic] from what I did. Violation of copyright says "You did you job, good job. Now get over it and get BACK to work like the rest of mankind!" and not "I don't think you should get paid for what you do."

    The problem with this logic is that without copyright protection in some form, it would be much harder to be a self-sufficient producer of original work whether that be writing, movies, etc. Without copyright, you could spend years working on a novel, and only sell a few copies, since someone could legally reproduce your novel, distribute it, and not give you a dime.

    I think we need some form of copyright protection to encourage people to create, but I would agree that what we have now is protection that lasts too long and is a bit too onerous.
  • by guruevi (827432) <<evi> <at> <smokingcube.be>> on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:16PM (#25980519) Homepage

    I can understand the reason for getting paid royalties and having your own work copyrighted but I have no sympathy for the untalented hacks their children or whores are (whether they are corporate (Disney) or individual (Yoko Ono)) years after the original artist or group has ceased (benefitting from his work). I also have no sympathy for the hacks that are trying to profit from the same work MULTIPLE times from the same people.

    There should be a limit that cannot be extended for work done and it shouldn't be 40 years after the artist has died, it should be given up as soon as the artist or the artists as a group can't benefit from it anymore (whether it be death of a member or split from their record label).

    It should also be allowed for the buyers to reclaim their own copy of a work they bought rights to in different (new) formats. I paid for the song that I wanted to listen to and I don't want to become deprived of my product simply because the format they chose 20 years ago (like DAT tapes) didn't keep up with current technology both in terms of quality as well as portability. Asking me to buy a new media-version of the identical product is like asking me to pay off my car all over again simply because I changed the tires or part of the engine or asking me to lug around a portable turntable so I can listen to the White Album while working out.

  • Re:Jailbreaking (Score:3, Insightful)

    by supernova_hq (1014429) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:26PM (#25980717)
    That's ok, just get someone else to do it. You are safe because you didn't jailbreak it and they are safe because they didn't agree to anything!
  • by Urza9814 (883915) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @06:26PM (#25981659)

    But see, your child doesn't get paid because you washed dishes. Your child gets paid because you save money and give it to them. Same can be said of writing books.

    Copyright isn't supposed to protect the publishers, it's supposed to protect the artists. If you happen to die of a car accident...well, that sucks, but you don't need the money, and I doubt the publisher does either. It'd just be an additional risk of business. Though honestly I don't think copyright should expire when the artist dies - it just shouldn't last so long that it's virtually guaranteed that the artist will die long before the copyright expires. Perhaps 10 years? Long enough the publisher and artist will most likely get the same amount of money.

  • by spazdor (902907) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @07:02PM (#25982147)

    most people would give up on writing books in favour of washing dishes.

    In other news, dishwashing is a way more popular career than book-writing.

  • by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @07:42PM (#25982583) Journal

    I have zero sympathy for those untalented hacks who spent a whole week in a recording studio and now want me to feed them, their whores, and their children for the rest of their pathetic lives. If they want to eat, they need to go out and win bread like the rest of us!

    OK, fair enough. What about the other 99% of artists, who do spend more than a week in the recording studio (or on location at a film, or in their studio painting, etc), or who some consider to be talented, or who can't get anywhere near the equivalent income from selling their art as any other skilled person? Do you have sympathy for them? Or do you lump all artists into that extremely tiny subcategory just to make yourself feel better when you rip them off?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @07:43PM (#25982591)

    > but that makes too much sense!

    Unfortunately, you're quite right. Under their interpretation of the law, they have all kinds of crazy statutory restrictions on what they can grant.

    And they'll only grant you powers with respect to a particular class of works (e.g. audio-visual works on CD) not something nice and broad like "any copyrighted work." There's also crap about access restrictions vs. use restrictions and other stuff I don't even remember.

    Long story short, the EFF all but gave up on asking for more restrictions a long time ago because it's a complete waste of time. At best, we get small victories like the ability to figure out what sites censorware blocks (though that one may have expired?) or the one we got last time to get rid of the Sony DRM rootkit.

    In case you're wondering, I know this because I was one of many people who requested that anti-Sony exception that they ultimately granted. Though I think that the other people did more good than me, because the replies pretty much ignored me. Even so, I only sent it in to show them that random private citizens care enough about it that they should get their butts in gear.

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @11:16PM (#25984431)

    No they dont.

    Do you get to charge license fees in perpetuity for the lines of code you write for your employer? If you do they're morons, because that's not standard.

    architects don't either.. they're paid hourly or salary
    same for graphic designers
    local bands are paid by the gig and for merchandise by fans

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