Wednesday, October 28, 2015

OpenStack 10/28/2015 (p.m.)

  • Tags: DMCA-exemptions, auto-software, VW-scandal, video-games, remixers

    • David Mao, the Librarian of Congress, has issued new rules pertaining to exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) after a 3 year battle that was expedited in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal.
    • Opposition to this new decision is coming from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the auto industry because the DMCA prohibits “circumventing encryption or access controls to copy or modify copyrighted works.”

      For example, GM “claimed the exemption ‘could introduce safety and security issues as well as facilitate violation of various laws designed specifically to regulate the modern car, including emissions, fuel economy, and vehicle safety regulations’.”

      The exemption in question is in Section 1201 which forbids the unlocking of software access controls which has given the auto industry the unique ability to “threaten legal action against anyone who needs to get around those restrictions, no matter how legitimate the reason.”

      Journalist Nick Statt points out that this provision “made it illegal in the past to unlock your smartphone from its carrier or even to share your HBO Go password with a friend. It’s designed to let corporations protect copyrighted material, but it allows them to crackdown on circumventions even when they’re not infringing on those copyrights or trying to access or steal proprietary information.”

    • Kit Walsh, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), explained that the “‘access control’ rule is supposed to protect against unlawful copying. But as we’ve seen in the recent Volkswagen scandal—where VW was caught manipulating smog tests—it can be used instead to hide wrongdoing hidden in computer code.”

      Walsh continued: “We are pleased that analysts will now be able to examine the software in the cars we drive without facing legal threats from car manufacturers, and that the Librarian has acted to promote competition in the vehicle aftermarket and protect the long tradition of vehicle owners tinkering with their cars and tractors. The year-long delay in implementing the exemptions, though, is disappointing and unjustified. The VW smog tests and a long run of security vulnerabilities have shown researchers and drivers need the exemptions now.”

      As part of the new changes, gamers can “modify an old video game so it doesn’t perform a check with an authentication server that has since been shut down” and after the publisher cuts of support for the video game.

    • Another positive from the change is that smartphone users will be able to jailbreak their phone and finally enjoy running operating systems and applications from any source, not just those approved by the manufacturer.

      And finally, those who remix excerpts from DVDs, Blu – Ray discs or downloading services will be allowed to mix the material into theirs without violating the DMCA.


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