The US Copyright office has submitted recommendations, approved last week by the Librarian of Congress, to add exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ’s rules governing access to devices and software. Of note is the new right to get into any consumer software-enabled device (cellphone, laptop, etc) for the purposes of diagnostics, repair, and maintenance.
You’re now also allowed under the DMCA to unlock your cell phone, meaning you can switch carriers without buying a new device, or jailbreak your router.
Also in there — the removal of a passage that made the exemption for computer security research contingent upon “not violating any applicable law.”
These aren’t free and clear — The exemptions have to be renewed every three years, and the Copyright Office still allows the obstructive service contracts manufacturers can use to deny exemptions for commercial and industrial products.
Why do we care?
Right to repair is the direction, and progress will be slow. That’s the headline… and for anyone in the physical repair of gear, this is very good news. It’s good news for consumers too, establishing more of a precedent that you do own your stuff.
Even if you don’t directly repair equipment, this impacts you too, as planned obsolescence for equipment should not… and seems to be less.. the norm. That should change your planning cycles on equipment.