A DMCA Exemption for Vidders?

Vidding News: The OTW wants to announce its support for the EFF’s proposed DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] exemption for video creators–like vidders–who rip DVDs in order to use clips for fair use remixes. Members of the Board provided the EFF with background information on the petition to the copyright office (right-click and save), which explicitly cites fan vidders as an established creative community that relies on clips from DVDs to make works that are fair use: or what the petition calls “fundamentally transformative visual works.”

As the EFF’s petition notes, noncommercial videos like vids have good fair use arguments, but they may not have their day in court without an exemption to DMCA circumvention claims. To put it in layman’s terms, vids themselves may be legal fair uses, but right now, it’s hard to make the argument because copyright owners are able to claim that the DMCA says ripping DVDs to make the vids isn’t legal–yes, even if you bought them.* (Capturing, for those of you who still capture, is legal; it takes advantage of a loophole called the ‘analog hole’.) The blanket prohibition against ripping short circuits fair use; as the EFF notes, a DMCA exemption will give vidders and noncommercial videographers the chance to make their fair use arguments.

The EFF’s petition briefly discusses fan vidders Luminosity, Lim, and here’s luck: “A vid like Vogue is a direct exercise in cultural criticism–a stylish attack on the romantic conjunction of violence and male sexuality in a major Hollywood film. Some vids (such as Us by the vidder known as Lim), can be far-reaching commentaries on vidding and fan culture itself, while other vids (like Superstar by the vidder known as here’s luck) serve the more modest (but equally fair) purpose of commenting on characters in a favorite TV show.” The entire petition is well worth reading for vidders or fans of vidding culture–not to mention those interested in issues of free speech in a Web 2 .0 world.

*(unless you’re a film professor: film professors currently have the only fair use exemption.)