Following up on our recent comments requesting reform of section 1201 of the Copyright Act, last Friday April 1 NMR filed a reply comment with the International Documentary Association, Film Independent, Kartemquin Educational Films, and Indie Caucus.
Section 1201 unecessarily restricts all kinds of otherwise legal reuses of content, including by filmmakers, consumers, and remix creators.
This reply comment asks the Copyright Office to fix the ineffective section 1201 process, which does little to prevent actual copyright infringement. Our initial comment asks for a complete reform to section 1201 through legislative action. This is more focused on advising the Copyright Office of procedural changes it can make to section 1201’s rulemaking proceedings while we await legislative change.
Before the end of 2015 the Copyright Office issued a Notice of Inquiry and Request for Public Comment on Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Section 1201 outlines the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions that make it illegal to bypass any technological protection measure (TPM) (also known as Digital Rights Management (DRM)) that restricts access to copyrighted content. But simply put, it is a broken and flawed area of copyright law.
The Notice of Inquiry was intended to assess the operation of section 1201, along with the triennial (every three year) rulemaking process established under the DMCA to adopt exemptions to the prohibition against circumvention of TPM’s. Based on our long history of advocating for DMCA exemptions, New Media Rights (NMR) participated in this effort by filing a public comment on March 1, 2016. The comment addressed several questions laid out in the notice of inquiry, drawing directly from New Media Rights’s experiences from working with clients navigate 1201 on a regular basis.
Over two years ago when we submitted comments in the United States Department of Commerce, United States Patent and Trademark Office and National Telecommunications and Information Administration copyright reform proceedings and again in our roundtable testimony, we advised a cautious approach that avoided the collateral damage that can come with hasty reforms. The final report takes a cautious balanced approach and shows support for many of the points we emphasized including:
The importance of developing a flexible criterion to help judges and juries determine the amount of statutory damages awarded. Particularly criteria that: consider whether the defendant use was non-commercial, had reasonable fair use argument and the financial means of the infringer. With flexible standards Copyright Trolls are much less likely to be able to exploit small-scale defendants’ lack of sophistication and resources to extract inappropriate settlements from them. (see pg 75 of the report for some of our thoughts)
The need for more public education on matters of copyright law, including fair use, to promote creativity.
The creation of easy to read fair use best practices developed within specific creative communities by creators, lawyers and other practitioners working in that specific area to help creators make informed decisions about fair use.
Recognizing the importance of having a small claims copyright court to help independent creators resolve disputes that doesn’t sacrifice important copyright safeguards, like fair use, in the process.(see pg 78 of the report for some of our thoughts)
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 2012, New 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 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.
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.
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, 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!