H.R. 1123 was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Member Conyers (D-MI) as well as other bipartisan Members of the House. A companion bill (S. 517) was introduced in the Senate by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Grassley (R-IA) as well as other Senators. In light of the fact this legislation enjoys bipartisan support by the key folks in the House and Senate, this measure is likely to be enacted into law, even though some argue that this legislation is too limited in scope and does not open the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for changes.
According to the Congressional Research Service summary, H.R. 1123 and S. 517:
- Repeals a Library of Congress (LOC) rulemaking determination, made upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, regarding the circumvention of technological measures controlling access to copyrighted software on wireless telephone handsets (mobile telephones) for the purpose of connecting to different wireless telecommunications networks (a practice commonly referred to as "unlocking" such devices).
- Reestablishes, as an exemption to provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) prohibiting such circumvention, a previous LOC rule permitting the use of computer programs, in the form of firmware or software, that enable used wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telecommunications network, when circumvention is initiated by the owner of the copy of such computer program solely to connect to such a network and access to the network is authorized by the network operator, thus permitting unlocked phones.
- Directs the Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Register, to determine whether to extend such exemption to include any other category of wireless devices in addition to wireless telephone handsets (e.g., tablets and other mobile broadband-enabled devices).
The live video of the legislative hearing can be viewed live here.
If you have any questions regarding this hearing as well as any legislation or activity in Congress that could impact the telecommunications, media and technology sectors, please contact Vance Schuemann or any member of the TLP team.