We have a legal system in the USA that’s meant to ensure nobody gets railroaded by a single party with an agenda to fulfill. And while the Internal Revenue Service gets to act as judge, jury, and executioner, most everything that doesn’t involve taxes takes the cooperation of many parties to resolve.

I have a new fear of respect for the Library of Congress.

The folks who previously started archiving the entire stream of drivel scrolling through Twitter have ruled (umm . . . overridden law) that certain portions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act just  don’t count. What was illegal is now . . . not

The new “fair use” exemptions specifically allow a few things that have been happening as a matter of course, including the “jailbreaking” of SmartPhones like the Apple iPhone, and making copies of DVDs under certain conditions.

I approve. Now here’s the thing:

  • You may have the right to unlock your iPhone now, making it legal to install software that Apple hasn’t approved. But Apple still has the right to push out software updates that will undo your unlock, potentially breaking your iPhone. And they have the right to void your phone’s warranty because you’d unlocked  it.
  • You may have the right if you are doing something “non-commercial” and “educational” to copy a DVD or grab a portion of it for use in a presentation, but there’s a reason I put those words in quotes.
  • You may have the right to circumvent the software in a piece of hardware designed to stop you from copying software, but I’ll bet that for almost everyone a better idea is just to buy newer software.

Or as Jeff Goldblum’s character famously said in Jurassic Park, “just because you can doesn’t mean you should”.

I’m not making a moral distinction. I can’t given that when my local Blockbuster Video shut down I started feeling pretty good about downloading movies over the Internet. I’m saying that I’m impressed that The Library of Congress had the power to do what they’ve done and have made so obvious a good call and there’s nothing the regular powers-that-be can do about it.

And that’s what business change is. And it’s why The Answer Guy is here.

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