US Copyright Office Approves Repair Exemptions...

The long awaited ruling was released yesterday and, for the most part, it is a huge win for repair and the consumer.  Kyle Wiens wrote an excellent piece on the history behind the ruling and the good (and not as good) results from the ruling.  You can read it here.  The key results are summarized below.

  • It’s now legal to unlock:
    • Phones (the law was going to expire in December)
    • Tablets (this is new!)
    • Mobile connectivity devices (such as hotspots)
    • Wearables (such as the LG G Watch)
    • But:
      • The device must be ‘used’, meaning it’s been activated by the original carrier.
      • It’s not legal to unlock anything else, like a cellular-connected car.
  • It’s now legal to jailbreak:
    • Phones
    • ‘Portable all-purpose mobile computing devices,’ like tablets (this is new!)
    • Smart TVs, for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability
    • But:
      • This does not include dedicated e-readers like the Kindle Paper.
      • This does not include game consoles, even for the purposes of repair. This is a major problem.
  • It’s now legal to modify the software on:
    • Cars
    • Tractors
    • Heavy equipment
    • 3D printers, for the purposes of using alternative feedstock
    • But:
      • This does not go into effect for 12 months from the date of the rulemaking.
      • Does not include modification of the portions of the vehicle that control telematics or entertainment systems.
      • Excludes non-land vehicles like boats. (What about hovercraft?)
      • Excludes repair shops or other “third parties” — the owner has to do the modification. This is a huge limitation.
  • It’s now legal to perform security research on:
    • Consumer devices
    • Voting machines
    • Motorized land vehicles (no ship hacking for you!)
    • Certain implantable medical devices (like pacemakers, but not general purpose medical devices like vital sign monitors)

Like to know the nitty-gritty?  You can read the ruling here.