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Exemptions Authorized by DMCA for Security Researchers
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Summary: Security researchers will be able to dive into technology in an attempt to reverse engineer and learn how things work after exemptions to the DMCA were released.

A list of exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was released Friday giving security researchers more freedom legally to explore technology. The exemption essentially means that researchers that abide by the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act have the ability to jailbreak phones, reverse engineer and circumvent obscured code allowing contact to copyrighted material.


Read YouTube to Support Video Creators from DMCA Abuse.

As the Federal Trade Commission explained, “There are at least four main requirements researchers must meet when setting up a research environment in order to fall under the exemption. First, the computer program, or any devices on which those programs run, must be ‘lawfully acquired.’ Second, during research, the device and computer program should operate ‘solely for the purpose of good-faith security research.’ This means, in part, that the research ‘must be conducted in a controlled setting designed to avoid harm to individuals or the public.’”

Staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation Kit Walsh is happy the exemption has been given, even if only temporary. Despite her pleasure, she expressed her frustration in being “unlawfully and pointlessly delayed” for a year. “Those limits were a result of opponents’ claims that removing DMCA liability for security researchers and vehicle owners who tinker with their own cars (or merely look at the code inside) would lead to a host of unlawful and undesirable activity, from auto theft, to spying, to safety violations and destruction of the environment.”

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See Mozilla Joins Fight against Justice Department.

The list of exemptions includes vehicle testing, medical device exploration by patients, consumer devices, video games, and computer programs. These changes do no give security researchers freedom to do whatever they want though. All research must be done in good faith and in a controlled setting to avoid harm to others.

Do you think people will take advantage of these exemptions immediately? Tell us why in the comments below.

To learn more about the Federal Trade Commission, read Federal Trade Commission Accuses T-Mobile of Cheating Their Customers.



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