Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Petard That Keeps on Hoisting

The U.S. Copyright Office is charged under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act with reviewing the world of technological measures used to protect copyrighted works and determine if any exemptions should be granted to the DMCA's normal prohibitions on the use of methods designed to circumvent said measures. The LOC has been going through that exercise again, recently wrapping up its public comment period to respond to last October's Notice of Inquiry.

One of the interesting 'suggestions' posed by the public (all of which are posted here -- the public was also allowed to respond to the first round and those responses are posted here) was a theme probably best summarized by Prof. Ed Felten of Princeton University. He argues in favor of an exemption for sound recordings and audiovisual works distributed in compact disc format and protected by technological measures that impede access to lawfully purchased works by creating or exploiting security vulnerabilities that compromise the security of personal computers. More or less, this is a response to the Sony rootkit episode, arguing that if we are circumventing for the purpose of protecting our own computer security it should be OK.

Not surprisingly that comment generated a number of replies, both favorable and negative. (Look here for replies that address comment number 6.)

This will continue to keep Cyberlawyers busy as we try to keep up with this debate. Note that those in Palo Alto or D.C. will be able to attend the LOC's public hearings on the issue -- Check out their invitation here.

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