Activist launches campaign to change the DMCA

The author of a phone-unlocking petition targets broader reform of the copyright law

The author of a successful White House petition calling on government officials to legalize the unlocking of mobile phones has turned his attention to broader reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Sina Khanifar, the phone-unlocking entrepreneur behind the recent petition, launched FixTheDMCA.org Wednesday in an effort to push the U.S. Congress into changing the DMCA.

The new effort has the support of Mozilla, Reddit, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and more than 30 tech companies, Khanifar said in an email.

Khanifar became involved in the issue after the Library of Congress allowed an exception to DMCA prosecution for unlocking mobile phones to expire in late January. Users typically unlock phones to switch carriers. U.S. President Barack Obama's administration voiced support for phone unlocking after Khanifar's petition received more than 114,000 signatures.

The new site helps visitors contact their lawmakers about the DMCA. "Since there's a lot of talk in D.C. about bills that would fix the unlocking issue, we want to move the conversation towards discussing and taking action on the source of the problems, and not simply address one of the symptoms," Khanifar said.

On Tuesday, Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, introduced legislation to legalize the unlocking of mobile phones. Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, said she plans to introduce similar legislation.

A forum letter targeted at lawmakers on the FixTheDMCA site focuses on the section of the law, section 1201, that allows exceptions to DMCA prosecutions for circumventing copyright protections. The Library of Congress periodically reviews the exceptions and decides whether to remove or add exceptions for copyright technology circumvention activities.

The section "was originally written to protect copyright owners from privacy by outlawing 'circumvention of technological protection measures,'" the letter says. "But the broad language in the anti-circumvention provisions means that technologies such as carrier unlocking cell phones, 'jailbreaking' phones, tablets and games consoles, as well as creating non-infringing personal backups of DVDs are all in a legal grey area."

The letter asks lawmakers to support a rewrite of section 1201 of the DMCA that provides more protections for consumers and tech businesses.

Khanifar and his colleagues built the FixTheDMCA site in 72 hours on a Startup Bus trip from San Francisco to Austin, Texas, he said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentcopyrightlegislationlegalBarack Obamamozillaintellectual propertyredditElectronic Frontier FoundationAnna EshooRon WydenU.S. Library of CongressSina Khanifar

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?