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LCA Applauds Librarian of Congress in Broadening Exceptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) applauds yesterday’s decision issued by the Librarian of Congress to significantly broaden the exemption for the creation of film clip compilations for classroom and educational use to all college and university faculty, regardless of academic discipline. According to Section 1201 (a) (1) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the Librarian of Congress is allowed once every three years to adopt exceptions to the anti-circumvention provisions that place technological protections on copyrighted works. In this latest round of exemptions, the Librarian of Congress, acting on the Register of Copyright’s recommendations, ruled in accordance to the requests made by Library Copyright Alliance members—the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College and Research Libraries, and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).

The DMCA established a provision that prohibited disabling passwords, scrambling systems, or other technological protection measures without the prior authorization of the rightsholder. At the same time, the DMCA also established a mechanism to periodically check if this provision prevented users of copyrighted works from making lawful uses of works, such as fair uses.

As a result of yesterday’s decision on exemptions, college and university faculty in all disciplines can lawfully circumvent the Content Scrambling System (CSS) typically used on DVDs for teaching purposes. Prior to this rulemaking, only faculty who taught film or media studies could exercise such an exemption. The LCA in its comments demonstrated that the use of film clips for educational purposes is in fact common and valuable in many disciplines. In today’s classroom, the inclusion of media resources is standard. The new rule also applies to university film and media students. In addition, circumvention can be performed for the incorporation of short portions into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment, not just the assembly of clip compilations for in-class screening purposes. The Librarian further expanded this exemption to documentary filmmaking and noncommercial videos.

LCA also is gratified by the Librarian of Congress’s renewal of the exemption to circumvent protections that block the read-aloud/screen-reader function on e-books.

The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) consists of three major library associations—the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Association of College and Research Libraries. These three associations collectively represent over 300,000 information professionals and thousands of libraries of all kinds throughout the United States and Canada http://librarycopyrightalliance.org/.