OTW Files Petitions on Behalf of Fan Video Makers

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The OTW, together with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF“), filed two exemption requests (available in PDF) with the U.S. Copyright Office today. The petitions seek renewal of the exemptions that the OTW helped secure in 2009 and 2012, which permit vidders to break encryption on audiovisual content provided via DVDs and online distribution services for the purpose of making noncommercial, transformative vids. In addition to seeking renewal of those exemptions, the OTW’s petition also seeks expansion of the exemptions to include Blu-Ray discs.

The petitions argue, among other things, that these exemptions are necessary to protect lawful free expression. The Copyright Office acknowledged in 2010 and 2012 that many vids are protected by the fair use doctrine and do not infringe copyright. These exemptions are necessary to permit vidders to create lawful transformative works without unintentionally breaking the law, to make works that are high-quality and timely, and to resist DMCA “takedown” notices for their lawful works.

We are grateful to the many fans who submitted information that helped us write these initial petitions. As the review process continues, we will undoubtedly be asking for even more examples and stories to support our arguments.

These petitions are part of an every-three-year review scheme put in place by the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office. In each round of reviews, proponents of exemptions like these must defend the exemptions they have previously received, and advocate for any expansions merited by technological development. As the EFF states in its press release regarding these petitions, “Congress created this system to act as a ‘safety valve’ to mitigate the harms the law has caused to legitimate, non-infringing uses of copyrighted materials. But that safety valve is hugely flawed. The every-three-year procedure is burdensome and confusing, with high hurdles to success.” The OTW will continue to represent the interests of vidders in this ongoing process.

To see other petitions filed in this process, see the EFF’s page collecting petitions.