EFF sues US government, saying copyright rules on DRM are unconstitutional

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Hacker Andrew “bunnie” Huang is EFF’s newest client. (credit: Pauline Ng via Wikimedia)

Since the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) became law in 1998, it has been a federal crime to copy a DVD or do anything else that subverts digital copy-protection schemes.

Soon, government lawyers will have to show up in court to defend those rules. Yesterday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit (PDF) claiming the parts of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that deal with copy protection and digital locks are unconstitutional.

Under the DMCA, any hacking or breaking of digital locks, often referred to as digital rights management or DRM, is a criminal act. That means modding a game console, hacking a car’s software, and copying a DVD are all acts that violate the law, no matter what the purpose. Those rules are encapsulated in Section 1201 of the DMCA, which was lobbied for by the entertainment industry and some large tech companies.

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