New Exemptions to the Prohibition on Circumvention of Technological Measures

 The US Copyright Office has codified new exemptions to section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which prohibits circumventing technological measures used to prevent unauthorized access to copyrighted works. 
Software and its copyright-protected code are an integral part of most devices. Device manufacturers argued that breaking the software locks as part of replacing parts or modifying devices is a violation of the anti-circumvention prohibition. Thus, they prevented consumers from repairing their own devices.
In its new ruling, the US Copyright Office has carved out the following exemptions to address, amongst other things, these practices -   

  • Jailbreaking and modifying voice assistant devices;
  • Legally unlocking new phones (as opposed to used phones);
  • Repairing smartphones, home appliances, and home systems; 
  • Repairing cars, tractors, and other motorized land vehicles.

These kinds of repairs are also legal for third parties to perform on behalf of the devices’ owners. Yet it is still illegal to market the underlying software tools designed to circumvent these technological measures, even for the sake of repair. 

CLICK HERE to read the new rule