Sunday, August 8, 2010

Library of Congress Announces New DMCA Rules Exemptions

Since the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed in 1998, the Library of Congress ("LOC") has been tasked with the duty to review the law to determine if there should be any classes of works that may be exempted from the DMCA. On July 26, 2010, the Library of Congress announced new DMCA Section 1201 Rules for Exemptions Regarding Circumvention of Access-Control Technologies. Six classes of works were added.

This was the fourth time that the LOC reviewed the DMCA to update it. In this review, the LOC decided to allow for the bypassing of DVD Content Scramble System encryption, permitting users to jailbreak their iPhone, enabling e-books to be read out loud by their computers.

Digital Rights Management circumvention is now allowed for the following six classes of works:

(1) Motion pictures on DVDs that are lawfully made and acquired and that are protected by the Content Scrambling System when circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment, and where the person engaging in circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that circumvention is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the use 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
(2) Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset.

(3) Computer programs, in the form of firmware or software, that enable used wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telecommunications network, when circumvention is initiated by the owner of the copy of the computer program solely in order to connect to a wireless telecommunications network and access to the network is authorized by the operator of the network.

(4) Video games accessible on personal computers and protected by technological protection measures that control access to lawfully obtained works, when circumvention is accomplished solely for the purpose of good faith testing for, investigating, or correcting security flaws or vulnerabilities, if:
(i) The information derived from the security testing is used primarily to promote the security of the owner or operator of a computer, computer system, or computer network; and
(ii) The information derived from the security testing is used or maintained in a manner that does not facilitate copyright infringement or a violation of applicable law.
(5) Computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access due to malfunction or damage and which are obsolete. A dongle shall be considered obsolete if it is no longer manufactured or if a replacement or repair is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace; and

(6) Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling either of the book’s read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a specialized format.

In general, the exemptions appear to be pro-consumer or the "little guy." For example, the DVD circumvention exemption may assist documentary film makers and others who want to utilize small clips of copyrighted material for their work. The updated rules on jailbreaking mobile phones may enable consumers to utilize their purchases on the platforms they desire. The bottom line is that for at least the next three years these exemptions will be the law of the land.

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