Monday, October 29, 2018

It Is Now Legal to Circumvent DRM to Repair Your Own Electronic Devices

You can now legally repair many of the electronic devices you own. That was not the case before yesterday. Why?

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is one of the methods companies use to prevent people from tinkering with the devices. As if it's not annoying enough when they design them in a way that it's impossible to take them apart without the special fancy tools that they produce.

Fortunately, on Sunday, new rules from the US Copyright Office took effect. Some important exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) were implemented. DMCA Section 1201 made it illegal to circumvent the DRM that prevents the modifying of most software-controlled products. The law was enacted in 1998. Now, a lot more products are software-controlled. So, exemptions were appropriate and necessary.

The Library of Congress and the US Copyright Office review the DMCA every three years and enact specific exemptions. Some important exemptions were made this year and took effect yesterday.

Specifically, now you can:

- Unlock new phones (not just used ones).

- Repair almost any type of home device, such as smartphones, home appliances and home systems.
- Modify software on motorized land vehicles.

- Have a third-party repair devices on behalf of the owner.

- Jailbreak voice assistant devices, such as Alexa-enabled gadgets.

So, that's a good victory for the "right to repair" movement. However, some proposals were rejected. You still can't repair game consoles, such as the PS4 and Xbox One.