My 8/15/10 Missoulian column
Last week, I covered part of a new a ruling that modifies the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the changes it brought to mobile devices such as the iPhone.
But there are other aspects of the new ruling that go beyond mobile phones, like making legal the practice of sampling small amounts of video from DVDs in order to make video remixes that are noncommercial and are forms of criticism, comment or parody.
To back up a bit, the DMCA (a federal law signed and enacted in 1998) makes illegal copying parts (or all) of digital works under copyright, or the circumvention of the digital rights management “locks” on copyrighted works in digital form. The U.S. Copyright Office, part of the Library of Congress, can update the DMCA every three years: U.S. Copyright Office – Anticircumvention Rulemaking.
The push for this year’s rule change (and other past changes to the DMCA) was the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Last year, they applied for these 2010 changes to allow the “jailbreaking” of iPhones, the renewal of allowances to open up used mobile phones for use on other carriers and the DVD video sampling exemption: EFF Wins New Legal Protections for Video Artists, Cell Phone Jailbreakers, and Unlockers | Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Part of the new rules refer to what’s called “fair use.” That’s the legal use of excerpts from a copyrighted work for uses in a new work, as long as the new work doesn’t borrow too much or aversely impact the market for the original work.
As I pointed out last week, fair use pertains to jailbreaking iPhones because the amount of software modified is a tiny percentage in comparison to the size of the software system as a whole, and so modifying such a small amount of software is considered to be fair use.
And when it comes to DVD sampling, that’s legal now under the rule update. Video remixing is very popular on the Internet, and many artists use parts of commercial movies in new works that are mixes and parodies. Movie studios objected because they claimed copyright on the whole work, and any sampling or remixing was seen as a violation of copyright, no matter what the purpose.
But fair use is a complex issue, and it’s not the wild west now for DVD rippers. I’m sure the new rules will be tested with more copyright takedown notices from movie makers and in court.
And Apple? The company announced recently it’s working to close one of the software loopholes that allows easy jailbreaking of iPhones: iPhone jailbreak could double as security hole – CNET News
This week in Mac Q & A: Using OS X’s Webserver