US issues new copyright exemptions including mobile phone reuse

Mobile phone owners in the US will be allowed to break software locks on their handsets in order to use them with competing carriers under new copyright rules approved by the US Library of Congress, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said other copyright exemptions announced will let film professors copy snippets from DVDs for educational compilations and let blind people use special software to read copy-protected electronic books.

All told, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington approved six exemptions, the most his Copyright Office has ever granted, the report said.

For the first time, the office exempted groups of users. Previously, Billington took an all-or-nothing approach, making exemptions difficult to justify, the report further said.

But von Lohmann said he was disappointed the Copyright Office rejected a number of exemptions that could have benefited consumers, including one that would have let owners of DVDs legally copy movies for use on Apple's iPod and other portable players, the report further said.

In granting the exemption for cell phone users, the Copyright Office determined that consumers are not able to enjoy full legal use of their handsets because of software locks that wireless providers have been placing to control access to phones' underlying programs, the report said.