A good friend of mine has been following the mod chip issue, and reminded me of a bill that I thought had died in Congress. In reality, the Freedom And Innovation Revitalizing U.S. Entrepreneurship Act of 2007 (HR 1201 in the 110th Congress) is in committee. Why is this bill important? It would soften many of the copyright restrictions faced in the electronics world, most notably, it would seemingly take mod chips out of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act‘s jurisdiction.
There is one important part of this bill.
“(g) Certain Hardware Devices- No person shall be liable for copyright infringement based on the design, manufacture, or distribution of a hardware device or of a component of the device if the device is capable of substantial, commercially significant noninfringing use.”
A mod chip would seem to fall into this exception, since, as noted previously, there are noninfringing uses for mod chips. Whether homebrew software and region unlocking, among other uses, are “substantial” and “commercially significant” remains to be seen. However, if this bill passes, then it will undoubtedly be tested in that regard.
Also worth noting was the previous list of allowed uses of circumvention technology, found here. It would seem some in the gaming community have presented game related exemptions, but the proposals have all been denied (see the rejected proposals at the bottom of the document). It would seem that if the relevant game consumer groups can get valid proposals with adequate evidence before the next decision is made, then perhaps circumvention for the purpose of region unlocking may be added to the list. It is at least a possibility.
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