If you own a phone or a tablet, you should be able to run whatever software you want on it. It seems like a simple truth, but there are a surprising number of hurdles in the way. Most pressingly, if the manufacturer of that phone or tablet wants to, they can misuse the law to limit your control over the device long after your purchase. This week, EFF has filed a petition with the Librarian of Congress and the Copyright Office to extend and expand the exemption that allows you to "jailbreak" your phone from those restrictions, without running afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
That's important because jailbreaking (or "rooting," on Android devices) has real-world implications for users' ability to use their phones and tablets effectively and securely. It may be a necessary step before installing security updates after a device has stopped being supported by the manufacturer. In other cases, it may help users install accessibility software that allows them to use a device despite disabilities.
An obscure clause in EU copyright rules means no one can publish photos of public buildings in Belgium, like the Atomium, or France’s Eiffel tower at night without first asking permission from the rights owners.
The optional rule extends to the buildings of the European Parliament in Brussels and in Strasbourg.
“Every website of every MEP that uses [an image of] the parliament building on it is a copyright infringement in the sense of the law,” said Dimitar Dimitrov, a so-called Wikimedian or policy expert for the European Wikimedia chapters in Brussels, on Tuesday (4 November).
Spain passed its Intellectual Property Law, with its hotly debated, so-called Google tax that allows for fines on aggregators that show snippets of content without paying for it. Critics of the law argue that in addition to the confusion of including private copy in the law, the wording on what constitutes as piracy is "vague" and "weak," failing to offer a clear-cut definition to rule against sites that violate property rights. Additionally, Spain is altering its penal code to move more forcefully against copyright violation by closing down sites that link to illegal content.
Last month, Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), along with Ilena Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Jared Polis (D-CO) and other co-sponsors introduced the Copyright and Marriage Equality Act, a new bipartisan bill that would amend the Copyright Act to more fully include same-sex married couples under the Copyright Act’s protection regarding the transfer of the rights to original work.