Positive Signals in Copyright Office’s Section 1201 Report

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Today, the U.S. Copyright Office released its report on its study of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Reform of Section 1201, which prohibits circumvention of technological protection measures, is essential for cybersecurity researchers working to make software more secure. The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) submitted comments as part of the study, which were cited 23 times in the report. There were a number of welcome recommendations on reform of Section 1201 in the report, although many of the proposed changes require congressional action.

“The Copyright Office appears to agree that the existing exemption in section 1201 for cybersecurity research is too narrow and burdensome. Greater flexibility is unquestionably needed to accommodate the rapid evolution of technology. This is a positive step towards meaningful reform that would allow security researchers to uncover vulnerabilities in software, making us all more secure,” said Stan Adams, CDT Open Internet Counsel.

“However, this report represents only a proposal for legislation; congressional action is still needed. Our cybersecurity is too important to be used as a proxy battle for other policy issues, and Congress should take steps to reform Section 1201 to protect researchers,” Adams added.

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