Internet rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has requested exemptions to be made for existing copyright law for items ranging from software found in cars, to abandoned old games.
The EFF made these requests to the U.S. Copyright Office as part of an annual call for submissions to see where and how existing copyright laws may be amended to meet changing needs.
Current copyright laws prevent the breaking of security software, often known as DRM, for all reasons except for a few minor exceptions. Following the EFF's success in winning exemptions for jailbreaking and device unlocking, the group this year has its sights set on other targets.
Most notably, the EFF wants it to be made legal to hack the DRM for software found in cars, in order to facilitate repair and modification. The EFF also wants ripping DVD and Blu-rays to be exempt, as well has removing the copy protection found on streaming services like Netflix for interoperability reasons. And lastly, as part of the six exemptions they're seeking this year, the EFF wants it to be made legal for old video games to be "hacked" in order to allow users to continue to play them.
The EFF says that these exemptions are needed to prevent digital copyright laws from reducing the rights of ownership that consumers have traditionally enjoyed with non digital products.
"The DMCA was supposed to help protect against copyright infringement, but it's been abused to interfere with all kinds of lawful activities that have nothing to do with infringement," said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "Software is in all kinds of devices, from cars to coffee-makers to alarm clocks. If that software is locked down by DRM, it's likely that you can't tinker, repair, and re-use those objects without incurring legal risk."
EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz lamented the overreaching fashion of aspects of the DMCA, saying that it's an on-going battle for organizations such as the EFF to fight for user rights.
"These requests highlight some of the ways that Section 1201 of the DMCA has given the Librarian of Congress a veto on innovation and creativity," said Stoltz. "We and many other organizations will have to spend the next year begging the Copyright Office to make sure copyright law doesn't stop user choice and creative expression."