DRM Exceptions

A few days ago The Library of Congress has published Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies. To make a long document short, you get to bypass a bit of DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) rules.

Most of the media talk about playing older games and fixing consoles or jail-breaking your phone but that's not the full scope. For example, there is a security research exception. Without this exception any company ending as butt of a joke could sue the security researcher. And, the way how DMCA was written, they would prevail. Mind you, they still get to sue you, but now their victory is unlikely.

For Nth year in row, these rules also plug a hole in e-book accessibility. For example, without this exception, blind people would depend on the mercy of DRM-protected content producers. With this exception, they can use software of their choice to help them read and, if software has to break DRM to do it, so be it.

Lastly, one important category is fixing your vehicles. Quite a few manufacturers (John Deer comes first to mind but they are not alone) have been using DRM as a way to prevent you from fixing your vehicle yourself. There is quite a lot of revenue to get if you can block those pesky independent repairmen. Well, at least now they cannot use DRM to do this.

However, it's not all good news as these provisions expire every three years and thus there is always a possibility of "LoC giveth, LoC taketh away" situation in the future. And just having right to DRM circumvention doesn't mean shit if you still cannot get replacement parts and/or any replacement parts you do obtain are potentially seized.

But it is a good step forward.

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