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Berkman Fellow teams up with Cyberlaw Clinic to submit DMCA request

Berkman Fellow Chris Soghoian writes on Surveillance State, his CNET blog:

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it illegal for users to break or reverse engineer the DRM that protects music, video, software and consumer electronics. However, every three years, the copyright office asks the public to submit requests for new exemptions to the law. In years past, consumers were given the right to hack region-locked mobile phones and security researchers were allowed to circumvent the DRM protecting malware-infected music CDs (such as in the famous Sony Rootkit fiasco).

The deadline for this year's requests was Tuesday afternoon.

A team from Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society has requested an exemption that, in the event that a central-server based DRM scheme fails in the future, would permit consumers to circumvent and evade the DRM protecting the music, movies, software and games that they have previously purchased -- in order to maintain their existing lawful right to access those works.

The team is made up of myself, Phil Malone, a Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the director of the Cyberlaw Clinic, and Arjun Mehra, a law student in the Clinic. Our full submission can be downloaded here.


We wish the team good luck as their request moves forward!


A bit of Berkman Center history in this area: In 2006, another Berkman team released The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age. The paper argued, among other things, against penalties "under the DMCA when DRM systems are circumvented purely to enable uses of content that are educational, legally permitted, and noncommercial." Later that year, the Library of Congress exempted six classes of works from DMCA section 1201's prohibition against DRM circumvention, including film clip compilations (a case in the Digital Learning Challenge paper).

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Aug 9, 2006

The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age

This foundational white paper reports on a year-long study by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, examining the…