U.S. copyright office issues six new rights, including cell phone reuse
NEW YORK (AP) - Cell phone owners will be allowed to break software locks on
their handsets in order to use them with competing carriers under new
copyright rules announced Wednesday.
Other copyright exemptions approved by the Library of Congress will let film
professors copy snippets from DVDs for educational compilations and let
blind people use special software to read copy-protected electronic books.
All told, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington approved six exemptions,
the most his Copyright Office has ever granted. For the first time, the
office exempted groups of users. Previously, Billington took an
all-or-nothing approach, making exemptions difficult to justify.
"I am very encouraged by the fact that the Copyright Office is willing to
recognize exemptions for archivists, cell phone recyclers and computer
security experts," said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney with the
civil-liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Frankly I'm surprised
and pleased they were granted."
But von Lohmann said he was disappointed the Copyright Office rejected a
number of exemptions that could have benefited consumers, including one that
would have let owners of DVDs legally copy movies for use on Apple Computer
Inc.'s iPod and other portable players.
The new rules will take effect Monday and expire in three years.
In granting the exemption for cell phone users, the Copyright Office
determined that consumers aren't able to enjoy full legal use of their
handsets because of software locks that wireless providers have been placing
to control access to phones' underlying programs.
Providers of prepaid phone services, in particular, have been trying to stop
entrepreneurs from buying subsidized handsets to resell at a profit. But
even customers of regular plans generally can't bring their phones to
another carrier, even after their contracts run out.
Billington noted that at least one company has filed lawsuits claiming that
breaking the software locks violates copyright law, which makes it illegal
for people to circumvent copy-protection technologies without an exemption
from the Copyright Office. He said the locks appeared in place not to
protect the developer of the cell phone software but for third-party
Officials with the industry group CTIA-The Wireless Association did not
return phone calls for comment Wednesday.
The exemption granted to film professors authorizes the breaking of the CSS
copy-protection technology found in most DVDs. Programs to do so circulate
widely on the Internet, though it has been illegal to use or distribute
The professors said they need the ability to create compilations of DVD
snippets to teach their classes - for example, taking portions of old and
new cartoons to study how animation has evolved. Such compilations are
generally permitted under "fair use" provisions of copyright law, but
breaking the locks to make the compilations has been illegal.
Hollywood studios have argued that educators could turn to videotapes and
other versions without the copy protections, but the professors argued that
DVDs are of higher quality and may preserve the original colors or
dimensions that videotapes lack.
"The record did not reveal any alternative means to meet the pedagogical
needs of the professors," Billington wrote.
Billington also authorized the breaking of locks on electronic books so that
blind people can use them with read-aloud software and similar aides.
He granted two exemptions dealing with computer obsolescence. For computer
software and video games that require machines no longer available,
copy-protection controls may be circumvented for archival purposes. Locks on
computer programs also may be broken if they require dongles - small
computer attachments - that are damaged and can't be replaced.
The final exemption lets researchers test CD copy-protection technologies
for security flaws or vulnerabilities. Researchers had cited Sony BMG Music
Entertainment's use of copy-protection systems that installed themselves on
personal computers to limit copying. In doing so, critics say, Sony BMG
exposed the computers to hacking, and the company has acknowledged problems
with one of the technologies used on some 5.7 million CDs.
On 11/28/06 9:41 AM, "Jeff Pearson" <email@example.com> wrote:
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VIDEOLIB is intended to encourage the broad and lively discussion of issues relating to the selection, evaluation, acquisition,bibliographic control, preservation, and use of current and evolving video formats in libraries and related institutions. It is hoped that the list will serve as an effective working tool for video librarians, as well as a channel of communication between libraries,educational institutions, and video producers and distributors.