The Copyright Office Issues New DMCA Exemptions

by Esther Kim on October 31, 2015
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David Mao, the acting Librarian of Congress who oversees the Copyright Office, issued a set of exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) prohibition on circumvention of copyright protection systems for access control technologies; in essence, giving the public the right to tinker, fix, modify, and research of software flaws on certain devices with embedded software. Given the complexity of this exemption, DMCA will most likely need another overhaul in near future.

For companies and individuals alike, this ruling will hopefully herald in the necessary changes to the DMCA; changes that will allow individuals to truly own their own physical devices as well as the right to maintain, modify, and repair the IOS that came pre-installed with their purchased devices.

Here is the short version of the Copyright Office’s rulings:

  • Effective Immediately as of October 27, 2015
    • Unlocking (devices must have been activated by the original carrier)
      • Phones
      • Tablets
      • Mobile connectivity devices (e.g. hotspots)
      • Wearables (e.g. Apple Watch)
      • Non-exempt Devices
        • Vehicle embedded devices
      • Jailbreaking
        • Phones
        • ‘Portable all-purpose mobile computing devices’ (e.g. tablets)
        • Smart TVs (only for interoperability)
        • Non-exempt devices
          • Devices designed for specific media (e.g. video game consoles and e-book readers)
          • Vehicle embedded devices
          • Computer confined to desktop or laptop operating systems
        • Security Searches
          • Consumer devices
          • Voting machines
          • Motorized land vehicles
          • Certain implantable medical devices (e.g. pacemakers)
            • Non-exempt devices in this category are vital sign monitors
          • Effective October 27, 2016
            • Software Modification
              • Cars
              • Tractors
              • Heavy equipment
              • 3D printers (only for using alternative feedstock)
              • Non-exempt devices
                • Vehicle telematics or entertainment devices
                • Non-land vehicles (e.g. boats)
                • Repair shops or ‘third party’ – owner must perform the modification

This is great news for the general public as the law is giving back the rights you purchased with your devices. For more information on this ruling, read the full document the Federal Register.

XS International is a part of the Digital Rights to Repair Coalition and has been fighting for changes to the DMCA for a free, independent market for repair and reuse. We are fighting for consumers’ rights to repair, reuse, and to have freedom of choice in who repairs and maintains their devices. We believe that if you own the hardware; you should own the software that was bundled along with the hardware. For more information on the Digital Rights to Repair Coalition, please visit their website at

Topics: copyright, digital right to repair, DMCA

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