Today, New Media Rights filed a petition with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Organization for Transformative Works to the Copyright Office requesting that the office provide better protection for the right of educators, libraries, filmmakers, remix artists, and others to use video excerpts under fair use through Section 1201 exemptions. Section 1201 outlines the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions that make it illegal to bypass technological protection measures (TPM) (also known as Digital Rights Management (DRM)) that restrict access to copyrighted content, unless specifically exempted through this rulemaking which takes place every three years. The strangest part about the anti-circumvention laws is that you may be making a fair use of material, but if you've circumvented, you could still be violating federal law. Simply put, 1201 is a broken and flawed area of copyright law, and current rules create confusing and unreasonably narrow exemptions. We are proposing an improved video exerpt exemption that is clearer and easier-to-use. Our improved video excerpt exemption would clarify that educators, libraries, filmmakers, remix artists, and others can make use of video excerpts under fair use without violating federal law.
As repeat players in these proceedings, particularly with respect to video excerpt exemptions, NMR, EFF and OTW notice that a pattern has emerged: a set of proponents submit ideas for exemptions to cover a variety of practical, socially valuable and otherwise lawful activities, a coalition of entertainment entities object – insisting, without evidence, that the proposed exemption might harm the continued growth of video markets – and then, eventually, the Librarian adopts a set of exemptions that recognize the need for an exemption, but are nonetheless both narrow in concept and often confusing in practice for users and copyright holders alike.
The exemption that our organizations propose gives the Copyright Office and the Librarian an opportunity to rethink this unnecessarily complicated approach. With respect to video excerpts in particular, a more streamlined approach will bring us closer to Congress’ intent, while making the rules clearer for both users and copyright holders. The proposed class will provide one clear exemption for video excerpts – removing confusion while maintaining critical protections for educators, libraries, professional filmmakers (including documentarians), remix artists, and others.
You can read our joint filing in the attachment below.