Policy/Legal

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

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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

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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.

New Media Rights Executive Director Art Neill reappointed to FCC Consumer Advisory Committee for a third term

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New Media Rights' internet user and consumer advocacy efforts were recognized again this week with the appointment of New Media Rights Executive Director Art Neill to a third term on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC). Neill previously has served as the Co-Chair of the CAC’s Broadband Working Group.  Staff Attorney Teri Karobonik will join Neill, serving as New Media Rights’ alternate representative to the CAC for a second term. The FCC committee works to serve the interests of consumers by soliciting their input during the regulatory process and working to improve consumer access to modern communications services.

 “Our appointment to the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee gives us a place where we can share the concerns of internet users and consumers directly with regulators,” said Neill. “Good public policy starts with actually knowing what’s happening on the ground. New Media Rights focuses its efforts on helping a variety of consumers and creators often left out of conversations about public policy that affects them.”

The Internet is counting on you Senator Wyden

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On January 27, 2015, New Media Rights, along with 6 other organizations and 7,550 concerned Internet users, signed a letter calling on Senator Wyden for his assistance opposing the renewal of “Fast Track" authority [also known as Trade Promotion Authority or TPA].

Particularly, this letter urges Sen. Wyden to stand up to the recently proposed Fast Track bill.  If this bill passed and Fast Track were renewed, Congress would lose its power over trade policy. That power would go directly into the hands of the White House. This would deny Congress the opportunity to review and amend treaties negotiated entirely in secret like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).This lack of meaningful review could lead to more extreme regulations which threaten Internet freedom and many of the efforts to reform Intellectual property law in the US. 

As a Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee Sen. Wyden has significant influence on the future of FastTrack. And as a long-time defender of digital rights and outspoken critic of the TTP, it is critical Sen. Wyden knows that once again we need his support. The letter concludes:

Users urge you to stand strong and oppose any new version of trade authority that does not include these critical guarantees of transparency, inclusiveness and accountability…


We are counting on you, as a pioneer in the digital rights movement, to oppose any TPA bill that does not truly address these troubling procedural issues.


Please do not support TPA. The Internet is counting on you.


The coalition of 7 public interest groups signing onto the letter include: Creative Commons, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Internet Archive, Knowledge Ecology International New Media Rights, Open Media International, Public Knowledge. The full text of the letter is attached to this post.

New Media Rights files comments at the Copyright Office supporting the right to jailbreak mobile devices and lawfully reuse video content

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New Media Rights has filed comments with the Copyright Office supporting four specific exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention provisions that will protect both internet users and creators' rights under fair use. Exemptions are argued every 3 years, and ensure that accessing copyrighted material for purposes of fair use don't needlessly violate federal law.

Similar to our 2009 and 2012 comments to the Copyright Office, these comments offer direct evidence supporting the right of internet users and video creators to circumvent technological protection measures to a) allow individuals to take control of the apps and services they use on their mobile devices, and b) allow creators, internet users, and filmmakers to reuse video content for fair use purposes. Thanks to our legal intern California Western School of Law 2L Pat McManus for his assistance in preparing these comments.

New Media Rights joins Electronic Frontier Foundation in urging court to reaffirm the denial of a dangerous preliminary injunction in the case of Garcia v Google

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New Media Rights has joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, and others in filing an Amicus Brief urging the court to reaffirm the district court’s denial of a dangerous and over reaching injunction that forced Google to take down the controversial "Innocence of Muslims" video while a copyright lawsuit is pending.

Most of our work at New Media Rights is preventative and transactional, focused on helping people avoid legal problems and lengthy court battles before they begin.  In this case, however, we've joined in filing this Amicus Brief because the recent Garcia v Google decision, if not reconsidered, will have negative consequences for free speech that will directly affect the creators and innovators we assist.

PRESS RELEASE: President Obama urges the FCC to adopt real net neutrality

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New Media Rights is pleased to announce that this morning President Barack Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reclassify the Internet under Title II. In plain language, the President came out in support of real net neutrality, the principle that says Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all internet traffic equally. New Media Rights has been advocating for reclassification in our recent Open Internet comments  to the FCC (and our reply comments) as well as in our letter to the President and his Office of Science and Technology Policy. We thank the President for his support of Title II reclassification and encourage the FCC to adopt the President's position. Here's the President's statement.

FCC Consumer Advisory Committee ends year with consumer privacy and disabled access recommendations

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The Federal Communication Commission's Consumer Advisory Committee held its final meeting of the year October 20.  New Media Rights is a member of the Consumer Advisory Committee, and we are part of the Consumer Empowerment, IP Transition, and Broadband (as co-chair) Working Groups.

In our final meeting, the group passed two important recommendations,

1) Recommendation Regarding Mobile Device Security

The Recommendation Regarding Mobile Device Security provides the FCC with guidance on how it can provide leadership to ensure consumers have the information they need to make meaningful choices about their privacy, to encourage innovation in mobile device security, and to make sure companies adhere to best practices in protecting consumer's privacy, safety, and security when they are online using a mobile device.
 

2) Recommendation Regarding Access for Eligible Individuals with Disabilities to Lifeline Service

This recommendation encourages the FCC to take direct steps to make sure that the expansion of Lifeline to mobile devices includes accessible devices for the disabled.

Read more about these recommendations and New Media Rights work at the FCC Consumer Advisory Committee

 

Letter to the President's Office of Science of Technology: Net Neutrality and Copyright reform are key to 21st Century innovation

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New Media Rights sent this letter to the President of the United States' Office of Science and Technology Policy in response to the White House's recent call for comments regarding updating the Strategy for American Innovation. We focus our comment on the importance of 1) protecting an open Internet through reclassification of broadband under Title II, and 2) copyright law reform for the 21st Century.

 

New Media Rights joins Sunlight Foundation in calling for openness of state legislature data

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This week is Global Legislative Openness Week (GLOW), and New Media Rights has joined the Sunlight Foundation and many other public interest groups in calling on state legislatures in the United States to improve the availability and accessibility of state legislative data.

Here's the full text of the letter.  You can learn more about the letter and GLOW on the Sunlight Foundation's website.

 

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