DMCA Exemption Process Rejects Personal Copies of Movies, Leaves Uncertainty For Many Others

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Today, the Library of Congress released its rules on what lawful uses of copyrighted works would continue to be prohibited by the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The rules rejected Public Knowledge's request for consumers to be able to make personal copies of their DVDs, and granted, with limitations, a variety of other exemptions.

The following can be attributed to Sherwin Siy, Vice President of Legal Affairs at Public Knowledge:

"These results continue to show the flaws in the law and the process of the DMCA. Even though the law clearly allows consumers to move their media between their personal devices, the Librarian of Congress and the Register of Copyrights allow the smallest mote of uncertainty to keep a common-sense activity illegal.

"While we are glad to see that important exemptions like security research and patient access to medical devices were granted, the rules limit them in ways that leave their uses uncertain. For instance, they do not include, as cellphone unlocking does, the explicit ability for patients to get help from others in accessing their data, and they place vague restrictions on security researchers that can continue to chill their research.

"Even the exemption to allow 3D printer users to select their own feedstock contains conditions that potentially undermine the exemption's usefulness.

"It is clear, though, that the scope of this law is far greater than was originally intended -- the fact that the Library and the Copyright Office have to consider things like vehicle repair and research, or cellphone unlocking, or glucose monitors, indicates the breadth of the burden placed upon consumers to ensure they aren't violating copyright law. The fact that they have made these considerations indicates that we are making slow progress in adjusting to the legal regime created by this law.

"But that progress is limited. In the absence of any change in the law or the rulemaking process, we can expect to do this again in a little over two years' time. Advocates for blind readers, medical device patients, and 3D printer users will need to present their findings before the Copyright Office again, and engage in substantially the same debates again, in 2017 as the 2018 rulemaking process gets underway. They will need to be joined by other classes of consumers who, in the next two years, will similarly find themselves burdened by the law.

"This is a situation in dire need of change. Recent revelations about vehicle safety and environmental compliance show just how necessary access to copyrighted software is, and how important it is not to restrict that under the law. We look forward to being able to make that happen."

For further information, please contact Communications Manager Shiva Stella. There will also be a press call with several of the exemption proponents Thursday, Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. EDT.

Press Call Participant Information:
WHEN: Thursday, October 29, at 3 p.m. EDT
DIAL-IN: 1-712-432-3071
PASSWORD: 676292
INSTRUCTIONS: 5* to queue questions, please state your name and outlet clearly

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