Sometimes the Librarian of Congress does the right thing:
Every three years, the Librarian of Congress issues new rules on Digital Millennium Copyright Act exemptions. Acting Librarian David Mao, in an order (PDF) released Tuesday, authorized the public to tinker with software in vehicles for “good faith security research” and for “lawful modification.”
The decision comes in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, in which the German automaker baked bogus code into its software that enabled the automaker’s diesel vehicles to reduce pollutants below acceptable levels during emissions tests.
“I am glad they granted these exemptions,” said Sherwin Siy, vice president for legal affairs for Public Knowledge in Washington, DC. “I am not glad it was necessary for them to do so in the first place.”
The auto industry, and even the Environmental Protection Agency, opposed the vehicle-tinkering rules that were proposed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others. About every 36 months, the Librarian of Congress and the Copyright Office entertain proposals for exemptions to the DMCA, which was passed in 1998. The DMCA prohibits circumventing encryption or access controls to copy or modify copyrighted works. The ultimate decision rests with the Librarian of Congress.