The OTW’s Legal and Vidding Committees have just been informed that the Library Of Congress is about to release a (long-awaited!) ruling granting a DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) exemption to makers of noncommercial remix, which includes vidding, anime music videos, political remix videos and the like. Previously film studies professors had the only exemption: now documentary filmmakers, makers of noncommercial video, and media studies teachers are also permitted to circumvent DMCA technologies if they need to in order to teach or to make artistic statements. (The DMCA exemption applies to you if you are in the U.S. or if someone tries to apply U.S. law to your work.)
This ruling does not mean that all vids and other remixed works are entirely out of the fog of legal uncertainty; rather, it means that people making noncommercial remix video do not have to worry about violating the DCMA’s anticircumvention provisions (which otherwise might prohibit ripping a protected DVD), which are separate from ordinary U.S. copyright law and which don’t otherwise allow for fair use. There is a requirement that circumvention must be necessary, because the Copyright Office believes that screen capture software might in some circumstances produce results of sufficient quality. As Tisha Turk testified, however, this is unlikely to be true for vidders.
The OTW worked with the EFF on the proposed exemption, submitted its own reply comment in support (special thanks to Casey Fiesler for her hard work), and went down to DC to support this comment with live testimony from Francesca Coppa, Tisha Turk, and Rebecca Tushnet. Today’s ruling is the result of the hard work of a coalition of documentary filmmakers, media studies professors, and fair use advocates.
The ruling is expected to be posted on the Library of Congress site later today! We’ll post more news and links as they become available!
One final note: because of the restrictiveness of the law, we have to do this all over again in two years. We need your stories to help, because the Copyright Office needs to see evidence of the need for an exemption: tell us why you need high-quality source to make your vids, why they are transformative, and/or why you don’t use screen capture. You can comment, or email the OTW’s Vidding Committee any time.
You can read OTW’s press release on the decision here.