Like any electronic device these days, TVs can be hacked or “jailbroken” (the common term for hacking Apple products) to expand functionality. Now, after the Librarian of Congress’ ruling on Tuesday, hacking smart TVs is considered legal. The U.S. Copyright Office put in a bid for this ruling after pressure from the Software Freedom Conservancy, which argues that the ability to hack TVs is great for the consumer, allowing for the expanded operability and installation of third-party software. Of course there was a lot of push back from certain groups tied to the film industry, as hacking a TV could allow the user to install software to watched illegally pirated content. The U.S. Copyright Office, however, found that this possibility is not compelling enough to outlaw hacking for legal purposes as well. According to the decision, “the Register also concluded that no evidence was submitted to illustrate opponents’ claim that jailbreaking of smart TVs will make it easier to gain unauthorized access to copyrighted content, or that it would otherwise undermine smart TVs as a platform for the consumption of expressive works.” This development is being seen as great news for those who work within creative fields, like filmmakers, who can now legally unlock blu-rays and DVDs to gain access to content for their work (a form of clip-licensing). On a separate note, the same decision (to the surprise of many) ruled that it’s still illegal to rip DVD and Blu-ray discs for personal use.
The 81-page decision is worth a read, especially if you’re heavily invested in the entertainment industry (or are just curious!)
And check out an article on this decision from The Hollywood Reporter here.
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