Use Your Exemptions
Are you a teacher, a student, a maker, a DVD owner, an owner of a smartphone or an iPad? You may have something to say to the Copyright Office very soon.
The first filings are in to the Copyright Office, to ask for three-year exemptions to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act’s criminal penalties for breaking encryption on digital files. All the exemptions argue that users’ and creators’ rights under fair use are violated by such penalties, and that people who are in a particular group of users and who are breaking encryption not to pirate material but to employ their fair use rights, should have an exemption. All the filers will want comments from users.
Here are some of the arguments:
- Professors everywhere in higher education, and film/media students should be able to crack DVDs to use material both in new works and for teaching purposes, within an educational objective, argued the Library Copyright Alliance. (They won this exemption last time; it now needs renewal.) The Society for Cinema and Media Studies and others want this extended to all university students; their filing was done with help from Washington College of Law’s IP clinic.
- Teachers in K-12 should be able to crack encrypted audio-visual material for teaching, said the Media Education Lab at Temple University, with help from Washington College of Law’s IP clinic.
- Documentary and fiction filmmakers should be able to crack DVD, Blu-Ray and digital files (if unavailable in hard copy) to employ fair use to make their work, according to film organizations such as the International Documentary Association and filmmakers such as Kartemquin Films. They argued their case with the help of the University of Southern California’s IP clinic and Donaldson and Callif. (The last exemption round won documentary filmmakers only access to DVDs only.)
- DVD owners should be able to copy movies in order to watch them on other devices (like their iPads), argued Public Knowledge.
- Multimedia e-book authors should be able to crack DVDs and digital video generally in order to employ fair use in the creation of their work, argued book authors with the help f the University of Southern California’s IP clinic and Donaldson and Callif.
- Mobile device owners should be able to unlock their devices (i.e. let them connect to other than the carrier’s preferred networks), argued Consumers Union with help from the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown Law School. (In the last round of exemptions, users of cellphone handsets won a similar exemption.)
For more, check out the filings at the Copyright Office. If you want to connect with the people and organizations leading these efforts to win DMCA exemptions in order to employ fair use, you can either contact the legal clinic or organization that prepared the filing, or contact us at email@example.com and we’ll put you in touch.
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