Software Freedom Conservancy

Software Freedom Conservancy Responds to the MPAA and RIAA

May 6, 2015

Software Freedom Conservancy continued its efforts to petition the Copyright Office to legally permit circumvention of encryption for firmwares found on Smart TVs by filing a response to critics of its Long Comment Regarding a Proposed Exemption Under 17 U.S.C. 1201. The Comment was prepared by Conservancy's pro bono counsel, Tor Ekeland, P.C.

Conservancy's initial petition was filed with the Copyright Office in October, 2014 followed by a long comment in February, with answers to the Copyright Office's specific queries as well as additional background on the proposed class and exemption. Three others, the Exploiteers, a group of hobbyist security researchers, renowned software developer Jay Freeman, and the Free Software Foundation, also submitted comments in February. Over 1,700 individual commenters submitted short comments in support of Smart TV unlocking. There was one comment filed in opposition, submitted jointly by the the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and th Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

Frederic B. Jennings, Associate at Tor Ekeland, said "Conservancy's petition received no opposition except from the RIAA, MPAA, and ESA, who show up at these hearings every three years to oppose nearly every proposed exemption. We're pleased to see hardware manufacturers recognize they have nothing to lose by allowing customers to legally jailbreak their devices."

The response refutes the opposition's comments on various grounds, including that the opposition ignored that Smart TV operating systems were the actual class of works at issue in Conservancy's petition.

Conservancy's Executive Director, Karen Sandler, also participated in a reply comment as part of a coalition of medical device researchers, which was prepared by Andrew Sellars and the Cyberlaw Clinic at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society of Harvard Law School. The comment responds to its opposition, explaining that independent medical device research plays a critical role in ensuring the safety and health of patients.

The next step in the 1201 process are hearings scheduled in LA and Washington DC later this month.

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