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.