Thursday, July 29, 2010

Good News! New DMCA exemptions benefit university faculty and students

On Monday, the Copyright Office announced new rules on exemptions from prohibition on circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. Their words, not mine.

Ever since the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) became law, faculty members and students alike have been legally hindered from using DVDs in the ways they had been able to use VHS videotapes in educational situations, such as clip compilations for class use. It made it illegal to break the encryption on DVDs for any reason. Over time new rules were released that enabled Film Studies professors to break the encryption for clip compilations. That was a step in the right direction but it didn't address the fact that visual media has become a hugely popular teaching aid for classes across the curriculum and it was just as likely that a literature or sociology professor would be interested in using clip compilations in their teaching.

Finally after a call-for-comments, hearings, and about a year of deliberation, the new set of rules has been released and there is real progress for the academic community.

To wit:
circumvention of the copy-protection on legally-acquired DVDs is permitted for the use of short portions of motion pictures in derivative works, for the purpose of criticism and comment, in the following instances:

(i) Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students;
(ii) Documentary filmmaking;
(iii) Noncommercial videos.

There are additional rules but that change is the one that most directly impacts us.

Check the source: Rulemaking on Anticircumvention text

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