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Improving the Legal Landscape for Security Research

Every three years, the Copyright Office conducts a notice-and-comment rulemaking through which interested parties pursue exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) anti-circumvention provisions. Section 1201 of the DMCA, added in 1998, aims to prevent (already illegal) copyright infringement in the digital context by making it illegal to bypass the technological locks rightsholders install to control access to copies of their works. Unfortunately, the threat of the DMCA’s potential civil and criminal penalties discourages more than would-be copyright infringers. Computer scientists and researchers who wish to test the security of software-driven devices may also face liability under the statute.

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Thawing Chilled Security Research: An Opportunity for the Copyright Office

This year, the Copyright Office has the opportunity to reduce the uncertainty the DMCA creates for security research. The Copyright Office’s sixth triennial rulemaking under the DMCA may offer some relief from one particular disincentive to security research. Through triennial rulemakings, the Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress can grant temporary exemptions to the DMCA’s section 1201 prohibition on the circumvention of access controls protecting copyrighted works. Without an exemption, circumventing access controls can lead to significant legal consequences, even if no copyright infringement occurs.

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Re:Create Coalition to Advocate for Balanced Copyright Law

CDT joins other non-profit advocacy organizations and trade associations in launching the Re:Create Coalition. Re:Create represents an effort to simplify and balance copyright law and policy, identifying what works well and what doesn’t. Through the coalition, CDT hopes to advance conversations about copyright beyond false dichotomies that needlessly pit creators of copyrighted works against consumers and innovators.

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Florida’s “True Origins of Digital Goods Act” Threatens Online Anonymity

A misguided copyright enforcement bill in Florida is threatening online anonymity. This week, the state legislature is considering the “True Origins of Digital Goods Act,” which would essentially make it unlawful for a website operator to remain anonymous if her site includes a substantial amount of embedded music or video. Anyone who runs a music blog or features video clips on her website would be required by law to disclose her name, address, and telephone number on the site.

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The Current DMCA Exemption Process is a Computer Security Vulnerability

In this day and age, it’s undeniable that we need the best computer security research to keep our data and ourselves safe. However, security researchers today don’t have the freedom they need to test systems for bugs and then fix them. It turns out a somewhat obscure regulatory process – the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s triennial circumvention review – could be a significant barrier to better security research.

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Mandated Search Filtering and Site Blocking are Still Bad Ideas

Today, the Center for Democracy & Technology joined 12 other organizations in reminding Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood of the overwhelming opposition to the website blocking and search filtering that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would have mandated. The letter responds to a litigation strategy, in apparent coordination with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), to accomplish SOPA’s goals through subpoenas and threatened legal action under Mississippi state law.

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Exporting the DMCA

Another leaked version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement appeared on Wikileaks yesterday and, as expected, it shows some positive progress, but also some backsliding.

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Welcome to Erik Stallman

CDT is excited to announce Erik Stallman as our Director of the Open Internet Project and General Counsel. Stallman, most recently with law firm Steptoe & Johnson LLP, has expertise in both telecommunications and intellectual property policy issues, with particular experience working on Internet regulatory matters and copyright law.

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