It’s that time again. Every three years congress sits down and decides what amendments and exemptions should be added to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Enacted in 1998, the DMCA was originally intended to criminalize production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works. It also criminalized the act of circumventing an access control, whether or not there is actual infringement of copyright itself.
This law was in response to rampant digital piracy that flourished after the boom of the internet. The law protects copyright holders from the theft of their products, and rightfully so. People should be paid for the things they make.
Although, the real issue is what these laws prohibit you from doing with the products you own. Due to a clause in the DMCA (section 1201), it’s illegal to bypass digital locks on hardware you own. Copyright law is redefining ownership and consumer rights.
This could infringe on your right to choose your service provider for a phone you bought, the right to repair or unlock your device yourself (legal now, but not for long), or even the right to repair your car. If you look below, theres a summary put together by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that explains how the DMCA affects us all.
Right now congress is accepting comments from the public on exemptions that are being proposed. But acceptance of public comments ends February 6, and then lobbyist get their say. If any of this has moved you at all,than make sure your voices are heard by congress. Visit this website to learn how to comment, and here to view all 27 proposed exemptions.