Librarian of Congress Announces Updated Exemptions to DMCA § 1201 on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems

On July 27, the Librarian of Congress issued a set of updated copyright regulations, including one that greatly expands permissible uses of short clips from DVDs and responds to a request  we made in testimony before the Copyright Office in May 2009 on behalf of AALL, the Medical Library Association and the Special Libraries Association.

In 2006, film and media studies faculty in colleges and universities were given a new exemption permitting them to circumvent DVD control technology for the purpose of making short clips for educational use in their classroom. In our 2009 testimony and follow-up response to questions from the Copyright Office relating to the possible use of screen capture software as a substitute for extracting clips directly from DVDs, we explained that, at the time, none of the screen capture software options provided a reliable way to capture good clips.

We are very pleased that the 2006 exemption has now been expanded to include all college or university professors, irrespective of discipline. In addition, the exemption now also includes use for documentary filmmaking as well as noncommercial videos.

For an explanation of all the exemptions to § 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), read our latest AALL Issue Brief: Exemptions to DMCA § 1201 Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems.

For more information and all official materials relating to the section 1201 rule-making, visit the United States Copyright Office Web site.

We are very pleased that the DVD exemption has been expanded to all disciplines in higher education, and we believe the new exemption will be of significant value to law school faculty. We hope to post additional materials to help explain the contours of the DVD exemption.

[Submitted by Roger Skalbeck, AALL Copyright Committee Chair]

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