OTW Secures DMCA Exemption Renewal and Expansion Victory

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On October 27, the U.S. Copyright Office announced its ruling on the DMCA exemptions that allow U.S. noncommercial remixers like vidders to make fair uses without worrying about liability for “circumventing” copy protection on the movies and TV shows they pay for. The full ruling includes exemptions for a number of other fair and noninfringing uses as well, including uses of clips by teachers and students. It can be found here. https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2015-27212.pdf.

The new version of the vidding exemption, which goes into effect immediately, permits people to circumvent copy protection to obtain short portions of films, television shows, and other videos for the purpose of making noncommercial videos that criticize or comment on the original work. The exemption explicitly permits the use of “screen capture” technology and also permits circumvention of copy protection on DVDs, digital transmissions, and Blu-Ray discs if necessary to produce a high level of quality content.

The U.S. Copyright Office examines exemption petitions and renewals every three years. The OTW and its ally, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have been working on this particular exemption renewal and expansion since September, 2014. In 2009 and 2012, we secured exemptions that allowed vidders to circumvent the encryption on DVDs and digital transmissions. In this round, we asked the Copyright Office to renew those exemptions and expand them include Blu-Ray. We extend special thanks to all the vidders who responded to our calls for stories and explanations of how this exemption matters to what they do.

The exemption process, and the exemption itself, are needlessly complicated, but we’re pleased that we have once again received and expanded an exemption to protect U.S. vidders and other fair users. The exact language allows circumvention for:

“Motion pictures (including television shows and videos), as defined in 17 U.S.C. 101, where circumvention is undertaken solely in order to make use of short portions of the motion pictures for the purpose of criticism or comment in the following instance: …

(ii) For use in noncommercial videos (including videos produced for a paid commission if the commissioning entity’s use is noncommercial),

(A)Where the circumvention is undertaken using screen-capture technology that appears to be offered to the public as enabling the reproduction of motion pictures after content has been lawfully acquired and decrypted, or

(B) Where the motion picture is lawfully made and acquired on a DVD protected by the Content Scramble System, on a Blu-ray disc protected by the Advanced Access Control System, or via a digital transmission protected by a technological measure, and where the person engaging in circumvention reasonably believes that screen-capture software or other non-circumventing alternatives are unable to produce the required level of high-quality content.”

The OTW will continue to fight for your legal rights to make noncommercial, transformative fanworks! Contact us at legal@transformativeworks.org.