2015 DMCA Anti-Circumvention Rulemaking: Significant Victories, but a Broken Process

Every three years the Copyright Office meets to reconsider exemptions to the DMCA Anti-Circumvention provisions. These exemptions are critical to ensuring creators and consumers’ ability to bypass technological protection measures on copyrighted works, allowing them to make fair use of works in a variety of circumstances.  As we did in 2012New Media Rights submitted extensive comments and testimony, working on behalf of creators and consumers to maintain and expand on the exemptions currently in place.

On October 27, the Copyright Office revealed the results of their 2015 Anti-Circumvention Rulemaking. Many of our recommendations were adopted, and we were cited repeatedly in the rulemaking.

This is usually the part where we say we’re proud to have been a part of making sure these vital exemptions were granted and expanded.  We are proud of our contributions and we’ll highlight those below, but we also need to take amount to keep it real.  The DMCA Anti-circumvention rulemaking is broken.

New California privacy laws require search warrants for digital information, Smart TV disclosures, and drone restrictions

New Media Rights Executive Director Art Neill recently sat down with San Diego's KPBS to discuss new privacy laws signed by Governor Jerry Brown in California.  The video interview is below, and here's a link to the longer form radio interview.  

New Media Rights joins Nameless Coalition asking Facebook to fix its authentic name policy

This week New Media Rights joined with the Nameless Coalition as part of a broad global alliance of over 60 human rights, digital rights, LGBTQ, and women’s rights advocates to send an open letter (full text below) to Facebook asking them to rethink their authentic names policy.

New Media Rights and KEI tell the US Trade Representative not to adopt measures that could expand the “20th­ century digital black hole"

Today New Media Rights joined the Authors Alliance, Creative Commons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Knowledge Ecology International in calling for the US Trade Representative not to agree to measures in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TTP) that could greatly reduced our ability to make orphaned works more accessible to the public.

Today we join more than 90 organizations in asking President Obama to open up taxpayer funded educational materials to the public

Today, New Media Rights along with a broad coalition of more than 90 education, library, technology, public interest, and legal organizations, called on the White House to take action to ensure federally funded educational materials are made available as Open Educational Resources (OER) that are free to use, share, and improve!

New Media Rights supports critical protections for military whistleblowers

Speaking out on wrongdoing in the military can be particularly challenging for service members who are trained to stay in line and follow orders. The stakes could not be higher for military whistleblowers who speak out against fraud, waste, abuse, and sexual assault in the military. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office noted a number of deficiencies in the protections offered to members of the military who report wrongdoing, and far too often, those whistleblowers are unfairly punished for their efforts to bring accountability to the armed services.

This is why New Media Rights recently joined with a variety of organizations, including Project on Government Oversight, Government Accountability Project​, Public Citizen​, Sunlight Foundation​, Demand Progress​ and others, in sending a letter to Congressional leaders supporting critical protections f in sending a letter to Congressional leaders supporting critical protections for military whistleblowers.  We've worked with various filmmakers and creators who bring light to issues in our military. These have included working on an important film about the treatment of workers in U.S. bases overseas, and a recently launched podcast on Veteran's issues.

New Media Rights’ final DMCA Anti-circumvention comments encourage the Copyright Office to protect fair use for all filmmakers

Today, New Media Rights submitted our final set of comments supporting exemptions that allow filmmakers to bypass encryption and technical protections measures for purposes of making fair use.

Specifically, following testimony in May, the Copyright Office requested definitions of a variety of terms including documentary, documentary-like, non-fiction, fictional, scripted, biopic, “inspired by,” imaginative, and “totally fiction” that were used in the proceeding.

In our responses to the Copyright Office's request, we explain that genre distinctions are not easily made, and that an exemption for all filmmakers is the best way to proceed. 

Testify! Why anti-circumvention exemptions are important for ALL filmmakers

Filmmakers who want to reuse the culture around them for commentary and criticism need to understand fair use, but that's not the only legal issue they have to worry about. Even if their use is a fair use, the DMCA Anti-Circumvention provisions make it illegal just to bypass any encryption (also known as Digital Rights Management (DRM) or Technological Protection Measures (TPM)) that restricts access to that content. This is exactly as ridiculous as it sounds.  Simply accessing content to make a fair use can still be illegal under federal law, even when there is no copyright infringement!

Every 3 years, the Copyright Office considers exemptions to these anti-circumvention provisions.  The process is highly problematic, but right now its the only way to provide any relief from this overreaching law that's been on the books since 1998. This year we submitted comments on three important exemptions (regarding installing software of your choice on your devices, as well as your right to reuse video content under fair use).

On Wednesday May 20, we testified regarding Class 6, which is all about allowing filmmakers to bypass encryption on DVDs, Blu Ray discs, and online sources, to make use of content under fair use.   We want to thank California Western law students Emory Roane and Patrick McManus for their great work helping prepare comments and testimony in this proceeding.


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