The FTC’s Right to Repair Inquiry and the Copyright Office’s Section 1201 Proceedings

(by Blake Reid, TLPC Director and Kayla Enriquez and Sarah Rippy, Colorado Law 2Ls)

The Federal Trade Commission is conducting a workshop entitled Nixing the Fix, which is aimed at exploring issues around the right to repair. In our submission to the Commission, we have submitted a curated archive of the record developed during the Copyright Office’s various proceedings that have raised repair-related issues, including its 2012, 2015, and 2018 triennial reviews of exemptions from Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, its 1201 Policy Study, and its Software-Enabled Consumer Products Study.

Section 1201 Security Research Exemption

On October 26, 2018, based upon the recommendation of the Acting Register of Copyrights, the Librarian of Congress adopted exemptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which prohibits circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. On behalf of its clients Ed Felten and Alex Halderman, and working together with the Center for Democracy and Technology, the TLPC helped secure a set of important changes to a pre-existing exemption for good-faith security research, expanding the ability for security researchers to legally test device and system software for cybersecurity vulnerabilities without violating the DMCA and risking criminal liability.

Important caveat: this post is intended only as general information and does not constitute legal advice. If readers wish to utilize the new exemptions granted by the Librarian, they should consult independent legal counsel before doing so.

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