Skip to main content

EFF requests loosening of laws on console, smartphone jailbreaking

Body claims laws intended for copyright protection are stifling creativity

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has requested a loosening of America's laws on the jailbreaking of smartphones, tablets and consoles, claiming that current legislation "harm(s) competition, consumer choice, and innovation."

The group achieved a relaxation of the previously existing law last year, but is seeking to capitalise on that victory with further requests.

The legislation in question is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), which the group claims is restricting many valid fields of use and experimentation - far beyond its original remit of preventing the use of pirated games, programs or music on consumer electronic devices.

"The DMCA is supposed to block copyright infringement. But instead it can be misused to threaten creators, innovators, and consumers, discouraging them from making full and fair use of their own property," said the EFF's intellectual property director Corynne McSherry.

"Hobbyists and tinkerers who want to modify their phones or video game consoles to run software programs of their choice deserve protection under the law. So do artists and critics who use short excerpts of video content to create new works of commentary and criticism. Copyright law shouldn't be stifling such uses - it should be encouraging them."

The EFF also published a detailed account of the requests it's making of the US Copyrigt Office in a PDF, listing both the desired changes to law and the arguments supporting them - making specific reference to the removal of the "otherOS" support from PS3s.

"All three major video game manufacturers - Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo - have deployed technical restrictions that force console purchasers to limit their operating systems and software exclusively to vendor-approved offerings, even where there is no evidence that other options will infringe copyrights," reads the report.

"This severely constrains not only consumer choice and the value of the console to its owner, but also the incentives for independent developers to create copyrightable systems and software that would expand the marketplace for these devices and promote the progress of science and the useful arts in these areas."

Every three years, the EFF re-evaluates it's position on current legislation in the light of technological and cultural advances, resubmitting new suggestions to the relevant governing bodies about potential changes to those laws.

Read this next

Related topics