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Groups Petition US Copyright Office: Make DVD Ripping, Xbox Hacking, Legal

Posted by: , 17:57 AEDT, Tue December 6, 2011

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DVD ripping and game console hacking could be made legal, much like how smart phone jailbreaking was made legal last year, if the US Copyright Office rules in favor of new petitions by Public Knowledge and the EFF

Public interest groups Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have lobbied the US Copyright Office to make more exemption to existing copyright laws.

Public Knowledge, a public interest advocacy organization, is asking the US Copyright Office to allow for the personal ripping of DVDs, so that personal "space shifting" can occur. Public Knowledge argues that increasingly, devices come without DVD drives, such as Apple's iPad, and in order to allow consumers to access their movies on such devices, "space shifting" should be allowed so that users can decrypt and convert their movies to the right format.

Under the current copyright legislation, particularly the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), any circumvention of digital copy protection, including DVD's CSS, is illegal, even for personal use.

The US Copyright Office is entertaining these request presently as it is required by law to examine these issues every three years. The office then decides on making exemptions as to not allow copyright laws to hamper consumer rights, fair use rights, and innovation. Last year, the US Copyright Office officially ruled that jailbreaking smart phones, like the iPhone, would be legal if the intent is to install unapproved apps on these devices. Apple complained that such a ruling would ruin their business model, but the dire warnings have so far proved incorrect, as Apple app sale revenue continues to climb despite the US Copyright Office's ruling.

The smart phone jailbreak petition came from the EFF back in 2009, and the Internet freedom advocacy group is back this year requesting that jailbreaking game consoles, such as the PS3 and Xbox 360, should also be made legal. Sony recently sued hacker George Hotz for participating in the jailbreaking of the PS3, and threatened to extend the lawsuit to anyone who came in contact with the jailbreaking code - Hotz's case was ultimately settled.

If Public Knowledge or the EFF's requests are granted this time round, it will no doubt attract the ire of Hollywood studios, who are arguing right now for even tougher copyright laws, and the game console makers, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.


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