LCA, MLA argue for broadened audiovisual exemption of DMCA Section 1201

On Tuesday, the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) and the Music Library Association (MLA) submitted comments to the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress in order to allow for the circumvention of access control technologies of audiovisual works included in a library of a college or university, when “circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of making compilations of portions of those works for educational use in the classroom by professors.”

In the previous Section 1201 rulemaking (2006), the Library of Congress granted an exemption for circumvention of audiovisual works for only media studies or film professors, and only of media contained in the library of a media studies or film department. Under these strict parameters, the rule allowed for the circumvention of access protections in order to do things like create compilations of video from CSS-enabled DVDs. The comments filed on Tuesday argue that the exemption should be broadened in two ways:

  • The exemption should apply to audiovisual works included in any college or university library, not just the library of the media studies department
  • The exemption should apply to classroom uses by instructors in all subjects, not just media studies or film professors

LCA and MLA gathered real world examples from librarians about the kinds of classroom uses of film clips that faculty would make if the Library of Congress expanded the existing exemption. Many said that the ability of instructors to create their own clips from DVDs would greatly enhance their teaching, making their methods more efficient (because instructors wouldn’t have to load each individual DVD, wait for the the ubiquitous copyright warning to run, and then jump to the appropriate section of the film), and more effective, by enabling a wide range of innovative techniques that use audiovisual materials in new ways (such as creating novel compilations of video clips for the study of foreign languages).

“We’re grateful for the 2006 exemption for film and media studies professors,” said Carrie Russell, Director of the Program on Public Access to Information at ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy. “However, teaching methods continue to change, and instructors wish to gather multimedia materials from a variety of sources. It makes sense to expand of the exemption to cover instructors in all subjects, and libraries throughout the university.”

Comments supporting or opposing the proposed exemptions are due by Feb. 2, 2009. Hearings will follow in the Spring, and the U.S. Copyright Office will announce its final determinations in October 2009.

Comments of the Library Copyright Alliance and Music Library Association (PDF).

Other comments filed in this rulemaking

About Jacob Roberts

Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.

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