The United States Government, at the request of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has announced what amounts to a blanket exemption to the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) for activities that all under the Fair Use doctrine of U.S. Copyright law.
This announcement, and subsequent change in DCMA enforcement policy, has wide-ranging implications for consumers of electronic devices and media. As it applies to the on-going battle between Apple and iPhone hackers, the new rules stipulate that Apple may not actively prevent attempts to “Jailbreak” the iPhone to allow extra functionality with either hardware or software measures.
Those familiar with their iPhone and iOS history may recall that it was hackers that had initially modified iOS to allow support for third-party apps and multi-tasking which led to the creation Apple-authorized App Store, public iOS API, and true multi-tasking support in iOS4.
Beyond the iPhone, the new DCMA exemptions allow academics to legally break DVD copy-protection to use films clips in the classroom, users to remove software and hardware security measures that are no longer supported by the publisher or manufacturer, and legalizes the investigation and correction of software flaws by third-parties.
Here’s hoping, for tech consumers everywhere, that these changes stand in the face of what is sure to be an intense lobbying effort by tech firms to stem the tide of consumer freedom.