The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) just got more confusing with the latest exceptions (PDF) from the Librarian of Congress. In case you don’t know the DMCA stops users from circumventing DRM or other protections but had a loophole offering exemptions by the Librarian of Congress which have to be renewed every three years. These exemptions included unlocking for the last two periods and jailbreaking smartphones for the past period. Now the new announced exemptions plan on making things even more confusing with ridiculous fine print.
The main one that will effect BlackBerry users is about cellphone unlocking. Essentially the Librarian has taken away the exemption by saying that for a phone to be legally unlocked it must have been acquired from the operator no later than 90 days after the new exemptions go into effect. In other words phones purchased after January 2013 must be unlocked through the carrier and with the carriers permission.
The librarian said there are two reasons for the change of heart. One that you are only licensing the software and thus unlocking is not fair use. The second is that the Librarian found that there are quire a few unlocked phones in the market and carriers are liberal in unlocking them.
This has to be one of the more ridiculous rulings coming from the DMCA and will probably be challenged. As ArsTechnica details this years exemptions are ridiculously broken. Here are a couple more examples:
- It is now legal to jailbreak cellphones but is now Illegal to jailbreak tablets! (They say this is because Tablet does not have a firm definition)
- You can still rip DVD’s but you cannot move the ripped files to another device!
In other words it should be an interesting 3 years… We will let you know what this means for the BerryReview unlocking store.