2012 DMCA Anti-Circumvention Rulemaking: Final exemptions make progress but miss important opportunities

Every three years the Copyright Office considers exemptions to the DMCA Anti-Circumvention provisions.  

These exemptions are critical to internet users and independent creators alike, but they have to be reargued every 3 years.  We fought all year at the Copyright Office through comments and testimony, and we're proud to have been a part of making sure these important exemptions originally proposed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation were granted by the Copyright Office.


Video Reuse Exemptions

Specifically, the Copyright Office renewed an exemption that allows the reuse of video content from DVD's for purposes of fair use.  This exemption has been expanded to cover a broader group of people than in 2006 and 2009, including K-12 educators, all college students, multimedia e-book authors, and professionals who have been commissioned to make videos for nonprofit purposes.  The exemption also has been extended to online content, rather than limited to DVDs.

Jailbreaking of Smartphones and Tablets

The Copyright Office also renewed an important exemption that permits smartphone users to install the software of their choice on their smartphones.  This exemption is critical to keep phone manufacturers, carriers, and OS makers from limiting access to otherwise legal services and content.

Work left to do

Unfortunately, the Copyright Office did not extend the Jailbreaking exemption to tablets.  They also did not offer an exemption to jailbreaking of game consoles.  Exemptions like these will continue to be critical to internet users and creators rights in the future.

Our Work

Our work started early this year when we filed comments supporting these exemptions in February. As always, our comments provide the critical perspective of the actual creators and internet users who rely on these exemptions.

On May 17, 2012, Art Neill testified in favor of Internet user's ability to Jailbreak their phones and to lawfully reuse video content.  There were two detailed filings (read them here and here) in July in response to follow up questions to parties who testified in the May hearings in which New Media Rights provided detailed responses based on its one-to-one interactions with internet users and creators.  On October 26, 2012, the Copyright Office issued a final rule granting both a jailbreaking exemption for smartphones and a video reuse exemption.  The official rule explicitly mentions New Media Rights support of the cell phone jailbreaking exemption. 

Copyright Office 2012 DMCA Anti-Circumvention Exemptions Rulemaking Final Rule



You can also read a good, detailed rundown of the new exemptions ruling from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  We're proud to have helped get these exemptions passed.  A round of applause is also in order for the key groups who fought for these important exemptions this year, including the Organization for Transformative Works, the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic, and Mozilla.


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