DMCA Exemption Proposal – Video Makers, We Need YOU!

The OTW’s Legal and Vidding Committees have started working on the renewal of our hard-won exemption to the US DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act)’s provisions on digital rights management for noncommercial remixers–and we need your help! If you vid or make other forms of fan video by ripping DVDs or Blueray discs; if you rip footage from a streaming service like Hulu, Itunes Streaming, or Amazon Unbox, please get in touch! You don’t have to use your real name: Depending on your choice, we can describe you using your pseudonym or as “a vidder” or “a fan filmmaker.” We are trying to compile stories of how fans work and what they need to make their fanworks.

We are seeking your own words about:
(1) Why vidding is a transformative and creative act;
(2) Why you need to circumvent (rip) DVDs or other sources such as Blu-Ray, Amazon Unbox, Hulu, or YouTube–we are particularly interested in cases where you were only able to find a copy of the source at one of the online services because the source wasn’t available on DVD;
(3) Whether you’ve tried screen capture software and how it worked for you;
(4) Whether you could make use of the “alternative” proposed by the MPAA, which is that you set up a separate camera to record your screen as it plays the source;
(5) Why high-quality source is important to you, whether your reasons are technical or aesthetic or something else;
(6) Anything else you think we ought to know as we work with the EFF to put together our request!

So please contact Francesca Coppa directly (fcoppa at transformativeworks dot org) or use the Vidding committee webform.

The OTW works hard to engage with and influence the US laws regarding fair use not only to help fans in the US or who use US-based services, but because we are aware that these laws have a ripple effect all over the world. For example, in South Korea, there was a huge crackdown on online copyrighted content as a result of a fair trade agreement with the U.S., and US policymakers are pushing these other countries to enact laws that are even harsher and don’t provide for exemptions the way that the US’s own domestic law does. Strong DMCA exemptions help send the message that such a system doesn’t work for the US and wouldn’t be a good idea elsewhere either. (We are interested in hearing from non-US vidders with answers to the questions above too!)

Legal Advocacy, News of Note, Vidding
  1. Belengar commented:

    Not exactly a vid, but it may fit in #2

    A couple of years ago I wrote a paper about “Matrix” ( for my Digital audiovisual culture class. The thing is, I had the DVD at home we bought ten years ago, but it didn’t work on Windows XP nor Linux because of the anticopy systems. I tried to install several updates of the software to no avail, so I ended up downloading the movie from Megaupload (which is not illegal in my country, but since I had the original movie, I shouldn’t have needed it).

    • fcoppa commented:

      Thank you for commenting! (And yeah, this has happened to me too!) I will collect all these stories for Legal!

  2. EllieMurasaki commented:

    And even I know that the answer to “Whether you could make use of the “alternative” proposed by the MPAA, which is that you set up a separate camera to record your screen as it plays the source” is a loud resounding FUCK NO.

  3. Jackie Kjono commented:

    I have actually experienced vids made by the process suggested in number 4.

    Years ago, some British fans wanted to let their American friends know about a really great show called the Professionals. British PAL VHS couldn’t easily be converted to American NTCS VHS and the producers of the show weren’t interested in making it available to Americans so the die-hard Brit fans would get an American camcorder and hold it in front of their televisions creating what were known as “flicker copies” for their American friends. Some of those American fans used their VCRs to make vids from those flicker copies.

    I have seen some of those vids. They seem to be about the adventures of two migraine-inducing smudges, one of whom is slightly taller than the other.

  4. Jackie Kjono commented:

    I was a late adopter of ripped source and was still using capture devices up until three years ago when we got the exemption. (Not quite as bad as the suggested method but, problematic enough.)

    Images are blurry and colors end up too bright. It is very hard to adjust them to get them to look anything like good when served up that way.

    One of my biggest heartbreaks is a vid I made back in 2002 called “If you Were in my Movie” from the Suzanne Vega song. I spent six months putting it together. Part of the problem was that After Effects was ridiculously expensive back in the day and I was quite broke so I did the masking effects in photoshop – frame by frame.

    The captured source was another problem. The colors – especially reds – bled all over the place. This was a particular problem with the Lois & Clark/Spiderman sequence. Capturing tends to darken images so when I was capturing darker source (Silence of the Lambs), it was more difficult to tell what was happening in the clip. Brightening it would screw up the contrast and since I was putting my Silence of the Lambs footage against a hot pink Daria background, well, ick. I tried muting back the Daria colors which had ended up significantly harsher on the captured version than they had been on the television but, I was only moderately successful with that.

    I will grant that I probably would have had serious color problems anyway, working from 49 different sources but, ripping would have given me a lot more flexibility when it came to fixing the problems than I had access to at the time.

    The vid is available at I’ve been thinking of uploading some of my old vids to vimeo but, haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’m still really proud of this vid as a vid concept and I really regret the the execution holds up poorly over time.

    • fcoppa commented:

      Thanks for these comments! Just in time!