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Copyright & Fair Use: DMCA

Definition

Digital Millennium Copyright ACT (DMCA)

 

 

The Clinton Administration made the recommendation that the Copyright Act be changed to cover materials that are electronically distributed over the Internet.  This resulted in the Digital Millennium Act of 1998, which prohibited the use of products designed to “crack” codes that protect and secure copyrighted works. This act also protected online service providers from being held responsible for violations committed by users.  Libraries were given rights to preserve and store information in digital format under certain circumstances.

 

 

In 2010 an exemption was added to the Act that allows faculty to bypass the protective code in order to extract short portions of copyrighted videos for class use in both face-to-face and online settings.

 

In 2012 the Copyright Office was asked to protect the "jailbreaking" of smartphones, electronic tablets, and video game consoles – liberating them to run operating systems and applications from any source, not just those approved by the manufacturer. The Copyright Office was also asked for legal protections for artists and critics who use excerpts from DVDs or downloading services to create new, remixed works. In October 2012, the Copyright Office renewed the exemption for smartphones in their final rulemaking, but did not extend it to other devices. The Copyright Office also reaffirmed the exemption for video remix, and expanded it to allow use of clips from online services.

On October 27, 2015, the Library of Congress released its final rules for the current cycle of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) Section 1201 rulemaking, setting forth exemptions from the prohibition against circumvention of technological protection measures (TPMs).  Every three years, proponents of exemptions must engage in a long process to seek renewal or expansion of existing exemptions or the granting of new exemptions in order to circumvent TPMs for non-infringing uses.  The new exemptions expand the previously granted exemptions in several areas and also grant new ones.

The new rules renew the exemption for literary works distributed in electronic form for persons who are blind, visually impaired or print disabled.  Notably, there was no opposition to renewing the exemption granted in 2012 and the Association of American Publishers filed comments indicating it did not object to this renewal.  Additionally, the 2015 rules permit circumvention for motion picture excerpts for educational purposes.  In a long and detailed rule, the new exemption permits circumvention of DVDs and Blu-ray discs for the use of short portions of motion pictures by college and university faculty and students in film studies or courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts and by the faculty of massive open online courses (MOOCs) in film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts (among other specific exceptions regarding use of motion picture excerpts).

 

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