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Friday, January 9, 2009

Library of Congress receives 20 suggested exemptions to the DMCA

In October, the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress announced the start of their year long review process to consider exemptions to The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). As a reminder, the DMCA was passed in 1998 and prohibits the circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted material. Since then, the exemption review period has occurred every three years with the most recent review in 2006. In order for exemptions to be considered, petitioners must prove that they are or likely to be, “adversely affected in their ability to make noninfringing uses due to the prohibition on circumvention.” Since the announcement in October, the Library of Congress has received 20 suggested exemptions. Several were submitted by universities and academic associations including: University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, University of California at Berkeley, Temple University, and the Library Copyright Alliance and Music Library Association. As noted in a recent article from Inside Higher Education, the exemption proposal of most interest to higher education is one submitted by Peter Decherney from the University of Pennsylvania along with other film studies scholars, which builds on the exemption that they submitted and won in 2006. The proposal asks that the exemption which allows film studies professors to reproduce clips from DVDs be changed to allow film studies students to use the material as well and allow for the use of audiovisual material in any university library, not just the film studies department library. The authors explain that the law is affecting students’ ability to progress in the discipline just as media studies professors were previously affected. The other proposals submitted by universities and academic associations ask to expand the exemption to include K-12 teachers and professors in all disciplines.

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