U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for Investigative Purposes

July 26, 2010 -

The Library of Congress’ Copyright Office looks into the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) every three years in order to ensure that its harms are “mitigated.” The latest such inquiry has led to the establishment of legal protections for those who choose to jailbreak their cell phones, as well as for those who break protections on videogames in order to “investigate or correct security flaws.”

An AP story stated that the triennial investigation offers exemptions to the DMCA in order to “ensure that existing law does not prevent non-infringing use of copyrighted material.”

Other exemptions handed down included:

• allow owners of used cell phones to break access controls on their phones in order to switch wireless carriers.

• allow people to break technical protections on video games to investigate or correct security flaws.

• allow college professors, film students and documentary filmmakers to break copy-protection measures on DVDs so they can embed clips for educational purposes, criticism, commentary and noncommercial videos.

• allow computer owners to bypass the need for external security devices called dongles if the dongle no longer works and cannot be replaced.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), who had requested a series of the exemptions, including the jailbreak provision, was overjoyed at the news. EFF Civil Liberty Director Jennifer Granick stated, “We are thrilled to have helped free jailbreakers, unlockers and vidders from this law's overbroad reach."

From the Copyright Office’s ruling on the jailbreak exemption:

When one jailbreaks a smartphone in order to make the operating system on that phone interoperable with an independently created application that has not been approved by the maker of the smartphone or the maker of its operating system, the modifications that are made purely for the purpose of such interoperability are fair uses.

More about the breaking protection of videogames provision:

The alleged underlying noninfringing use involved is twofold. First, purchasers of video games (including researchers) are engaged in noninfringing use when they install, access, and play authorized copies of such video games while further seeking to protect the security of their computers. Second, researchers in lawful possession of copies of games are engaged in noninfringing uses when they seek solely to research and investigate whether a video game, or the technological measure protecting it, creates security vulnerabilities or flaws. Professor Halderman asserted that such good faith research that does not cause or promote infringement generally constitutes fair use.

Halderman alleged that SecuROM may create security flaws or vulnerabilities. He referred to a number of articles and class action lawsuits suggesting that SecuROM may contain flaws or cause vulnerabilities. He further stated that a single definitive scientific study might quell the panic, protests, and litigation to what may turn out to be nonexistent or easily reparable faults.

Additionally:

Aggregating the evidentiary record, the proponents have shown that they need to be able to fix flaws that are identified in this class of works and they need to be able to investigate other alleged security vulnerabilities in this class.


Comments

Re: U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for ...

I don't recall Apple recieving bailout money, the US government has no right to interfere here. Based on actions like this you can challenge Sony for removing PS2 BC from the PS3.

 

But then again after all of their **** ups Apple may need help soon.

Re: U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for ...

"I don't recall Apple recieving bailout money, the US government has no right to interfere here."

It's called consumer rights.  If I buy an iPhone, it's not Apple's anymore, it's mine.  You are arguing that Apple has the right to tell me what I can do with something I own just because they manufactured it.  Would you say Philips has the right to tell me what I'm allowed to watch on my TV?

Apple has the right to deny me support (technical, warranty, and network) if I run proscribed software on their hardware, but they do NOT have the right to sue me for it.

"Based on actions like this you can challenge Sony for removing PS2 BC from the PS3."

These two things have absolutely nothing to do with each other at all.

Re: U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for ...

I would imagine they can since people did purchase this technology not rent it, thus can do what they hell they want to it.

Re: U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for ...

Good news for everyone that wants to jailbreak an iPhone!!!!

http://www.magicinkgaming.com/

Re: U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for ...

The sad thing is that these will only be permissible actions for 3 years, at which time consumers will have to lobby the Library of Congress to get their rights back. The other sad thing is that citizens are only allowed a handful of fair use rights when it comes to DRM every 3 years and those that get chosen are at the expense of those that are equally justifiable and fair.

this whole process needs scrapped and replaced with a set measurement of fair use rights and everything that falls under that measurement is permissible by law.


For an example of the total worthlessness of this process, it is now legal to jailbreak mobile phones and run unsigned apps but it is still illegal to use a mod chip in a console to do the exact same.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for ...

"Total worthlessness" is a bit of an exaggeration, as the good guys DID gain some ground on this one, but yeah, the system needs to be tossed in favor of a simple list of "This is fair use.  Anything you do for these purposes is also fair use."

Re: U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for ...

No. It is worthless. Can you imagine if we had to lobby congress to get a 3 year access to the rights outlined in the Bill of Rights? Can you imagine if they only allowed 5 of those rights at a time?

That is what this process is like. Copyright law grants the citizens of the US certain fair use rights, but the DMCA forces us to have to lobby the government to get partial access to those rights for a limited time at the expense of other rights.

I don't know about you, but I think that is a bunch of bull.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for ...

Oh, I agree.  But this is still progress.  Way damn slower than it has any right to be, and the DMCA shouldn't have passed in the first place, but at least they're chipping away at it.

This is still a victory, even if it's not as big a one as we'd like.

Re: U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for ...

It is. If you have limited access to a right, then it is NOT a right. Anything that's a right, well, you should have access to it indefinately.

Re: U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for ...

Good news.  Pity I don't see anything there about backup copies, but these are two big steps in the right direction.

The headline seems incomplete to me -- it's not just about breaking DRM for investigative purposes, it also allows you to remove DRM that presents a security problem.  I imagine that, in practice, this will also extend to DRM that inhibits PC functionality, such as the disc check programs that mess with CD drivers.

Re: U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for ...

Again, it's a start.

I still remember Apple arguing that Jailbreaking can allow one to perform terrorist actions using cell towers, when that tech has existed for years before the Iphone.

Re: U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for ...

Sounds akin to how the government used to say that smoking pot = funding terrorism- baseless scaremongering to influence action.

Re: U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for ...

Well, it's a start.

I suppose this means that it's still illegal for me to bypass the code wheel copy protection on my old AD&D Gold Box games.

Re: U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for ...

Maybe not. in the "allow computer owners to bypass the need for external security devices called dongles if the dongle no longer works and cannot be replaced."

it isn't exact, but the code wheel could be considered the dongle. Plus, while I'm not sure, AD&D should be abandon ware by now.

Re: U.S. Govt Okays Jailbreaking and Breaking Game DRM for ...

Maybe, but if the code wheel still works, you can hardly invoke the "no longer works" clause.

And there is absolutely no legal support for "abandonware"; somebody somewhere still owns the copyright and could still sue you.  All "abandonware" means is that they probably won't.

 
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