July 26, 2010, 10:07 PM — The Library of Congress added five new exemptions to its Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Monday, a copyright law that criminalizes attempts to bypass digital copyrights. Originally passed in 1998, the act is revisited every three years, with new exceptions added based on changing technology.
While the legalization of jailbreaking mobile phones is certainly getting the most press, exemptions were also added to the DMCA that allow people to legally break through the copyright protections on video games, e-books, and DVDs as well as bypass external security measures on some computers.
The biggest news today was the legalization of jailbreaking. Users can now legally break through copyright protection on their mobile phones in order to "execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications." Users are also now able to unlock firmware that ties a mobile phone to a particular wireless network. Both exemptions are big news for iPhone owners, who have battled for some time over the ability to add non-Apple approved software to their phones, as well as take those phones to different carriers.
DVDs: No Ripping/Copying.. But..
College professors and students, documentary filmmakers, and those making noncommercial videos, are now able to circumvent the copyright protection on DVDs in order to use short clips from those DVDs in new works "for the purpose of criticism or comment." The exemption was previously in place for professors, but has now been expanded to include students and filmmakers. The exception does not allow for users to copy whole works, or for individuals to create backups of DVDs they personally own, an issue brought up last year in the RealDVD case.