Do you know what your cell phone, your car, and your medical devices have in common? They are all electronics that you may not be allowed to fully use even if you own them, because -- oddly enough -- of a copyright law.
An overreaching copyright law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal to bypass digital locks that are placed on copyrighted works. These locks exist even if you have every legal right to use that work in the first place. Those works don't just include movies and music, but also software that's necessary to run many devices. This means it can keep people from making repairs to the equipment in their car, accessing data from their blood glucose or heart monitors, using their cell phones with a new phone company, and more.
But the law wasn’t intended to do this. It’s intended to make it harder for people to make illegal copies of movies, music, and apps, not keep people from using generic toner cartridges or accessibility software for eBooks. So every three years, the Copyright Office and the Library of Congress come out with a list of exemptions to the law.
But the process itself is broken. It means that every three years, advocates for blind readers, medical device patients, and 3D printer users need to present their findings before the Copyright Office again, and engage in the same debates again, and wait to see if their exemptions are granted again. These are just a few of the burdensome and unnecessary locks that consumers should be able to circumvent.
This process must stop. Contact your members of Congress and tell them to stop this unnecessary three-year cycle and fix the DMCA once and for all.