Several changes and revisions have been made by US Copyright Office, part of Library of Congress, to the Section 1201 of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which governs the rulemaking on exemptions from prohibition on circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. In other words, without the exceptions granted through Section 1201, person who hack or crack an copyrighted work is violating the law, and can be sued. The Section 1201 of DMCA is reviewed triannually, once every three years.

The new changes and revisions to Section 1201 rules have expanded the number of exceptions granted. The expansion has a significant effects and consequences, and have been greatly welcome by hackers, programmers, security researchers, gamers and amateur videographers worldwide. The expansion has been campaigned by the like of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The new DMCA rules concludes that jailbreak or unlock iPhone, root Android-based phone, hack other cell phone, rip DVD, crack and bypass DRM copying restriction of games and bypass reading limitations of eBook are legal and lawful, typically for investigative, fair use, interoperability and security purposes.

The new list of the six classes of works exempted by DMCA Section 1201 are as follow:

  1. Motion pictures on DVDs that are lawfully made and acquired and that are protected by the Content Scrambling System when circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment, and where the person engaging in circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that circumvention is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the use in the following instances:
    1. Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students
    2. Documentary filmmaking
    3. Noncommercial videos
  2. Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset.
  3. Computer programs, in the form of firmware or software, that enable used wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telecommunications network, when circumvention is initiated by the owner of the copy of the computer program solely in order to connect to a wireless telecommunications network and access to the network is authorized by the operator of the network.
  4. Video games accessible on personal computers and protected by technological protection measures that control access to lawfully obtained works, when circumvention is accomplished solely for the purpose of good faith testing for, investigating, or correcting security flaws or vulnerabilities, if:
    1. The information derived from the security testing is used primarily to promote the security of the owner or operator of a computer, computer system, or computer network.
    2. The information derived from the security testing is used or maintained in a manner that does not facilitate copyright infringement or a violation of applicable law.
  5. Computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access due to malfunction or damage and which are obsolete. A dongle shall be considered obsolete if it is no longer manufactured or if a replacement or repair is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.
  6. Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling either of the book’s read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a specialized format.

In shorter words, it means that:

  1. Legal owner can bypass CSS and rip DVD video to show clips for educational purposes, criticism, commentary or use in noncommercial videos.
  2. Legal owner of mobile phone can jailbreak iPhone or root the Android phone to install unauthorized or unapproved apps.
  3. Legal owner of mobile phone can unlock the cell phone to use on another network operator.
  4. Legal owner of games for PC can bypass the DRM copy protection of video games for good faith testing for, investigating, or correcting security flaws or vulnerabilities.
  5. It’s legal to bypass and circumvent anti-copying copyright protection of obsolete software programs protected by malfunction or damage hardware dongle.
  6. It’s legal to crack ebook that prevent text to be read aloud or rendered into specialized format.

However, do note that phone manufacturers such as Apple can void the warranty of the phone (iPhone) that is been jailbroken or unlocked. Or it can file breach-of-contract lawsuit as the software license agreement which bans any attempt to modify or reverse engineer the phone software or firmware was violated. Phone makers can also null the unauthorized or illegal apps via software updates or upgrades.

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