Software Freedom Conservancy

2015 YIR: Conservancy Wins DMCA Exception for Smart TVs

by Bradley M. Kuhn on December 18, 2015

[ This is a blog post is the fourth in our series, Conservancy 2015: Year in Review . ]

For 7 years, culminating in a major victory this year, Conservancy has fought for your right to do cool things with your digital television. As part of the review process for exceptions to the DMCA, Conservancy fought for and won an exception for so-called “Smart TVs”.

In early February 2015, Conservancy filed a formal long form comment with the Copyright office, following up on our initial petition in 2014.

**Photo of Williamson testifying at the DMCA hearing**

We continued in this process, even though we have extremely limited resources compared to other organizations working in this area. We funded travel expenses for our pro-bono attorney on this matter, Aaron Williamson of Tor Ekland P.C., to testify at a hearing on the matter.

In October, our hard work yielded success. The Copyright Office granted the exception in their issued ruling.

What does that mean for your software freedom? If you own a television with a digital Linux-based firmware on it, you can extract that firmware, and figure out how to replace it with a more Free-Software-friendly firmware stack like SamyGo without fearing a DMCA violation.

The road to this type of software freedom was even longer for Conservancy. We sued Samsung (along with many other defendants) back in 2008, and assured that Samsung released the copylefted components in their firmware. Like the OpenWRT project, the SamyGo project exists thanks to active GPL enforcement by non-profit charities like Conservancy. With this DMCA exception, we can be assured of a clear and equal playing field for hobbyists and life-hackers who wish to modify the devices in their home.

Would you like us to continue this important work? This is precisely the type of activity we'll cut from our budget if we don't get meet our target of 2,500 Supporters.

Tags: conservancy, GPL, Year In Revew 2015

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