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US Copyright Office Introduces Broadened Exemptions for Circumventing Software Copy Protection

The US Copyright Office has introduced broadened exemptions where circumventing software copy protection may be permissible, including in the context of repairing consumer products that use software. Such consumer products would include cell phones and laptops, for example, and the broadened exemption is directed towards the “right to repair” such products.

Generally, Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act prohibits circumventing technological measures used to prevent unauthorized access to copyrighted works such as books, movies and computer software. Exemptions to this general prohibition are prescribed and reviewed by the US Copyright Office periodically.

The newly introduced exemptions include an exemption related to “computer programs that are contained in and control [a consumer device] when circumvention is a necessary step to allow… diagnosis, maintenance, or repair of such a device” and not for accessing other copyrighted works.

For more information, please see: the Final Rule adopting the new exemptions and an article discussing the exemption related to repairing consumer devices

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