Analysis of Rulemaking and Multimedia Ebook Authorship Exemption to the DMCA in 2018

(cross-posted from Authors Alliance)

The following analysis was written by Harrison Grant and Brian Trinh of UCI Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic and Colleen McCroskey and Corian Zacher of Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic at Colorado Law, under the supervision of Professors Jack Lerner and Blake Reid. Authors Alliance is grateful to the student attorneys and their supervisors for their tireless work securing exemptions to Section 1201 for authors and for this careful analysis of the results of recent rulemaking proceedings related to multimedia e-books.

On October 26th, the Library of Congress announced important new exemptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that will improve authors’ ability to create in the digital environment. Thanks to the work of a coalition of authors’ organizations including Authors Alliance and two law clinics who represented them, today authors of any non-fiction multimedia e-book can use content from DVDs, Blu-ray, and digitally transmitted video to make fair uses of copyrighted material in their own works.

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Section 1201 Security Research Exemption

On October 26, 2018, based upon the recommendation of the Acting Register of Copyrights, the Librarian of Congress adopted exemptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which prohibits circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. On behalf of its clients Ed Felten and Alex Halderman, and working together with the Center for Democracy and Technology, the TLPC helped secure a set of important changes to a pre-existing exemption for good-faith security research, expanding the ability for security researchers to legally test device and system software for cybersecurity vulnerabilities without violating the DMCA and risking criminal liability.

Important caveat: this post is intended only as general information and does not constitute legal advice. If readers wish to utilize the new exemptions granted by the Librarian, they should consult independent legal counsel before doing so.

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Section 1201 Exemption for Disability Services Professionals

In 2017-2018, the TLPC, including student attorneys Sophia Galleher and John Schoppert, represented the Association of Transcribers and Speech-to-Text Providers (ATSP) before the U.S. Copyright Office’s Seventh Triennial Section 1201 Proceeding in Washington, DC. in an effort to empower disability services professionals to circumvent technological protections measures (TPMs) to provide accessible captioned and described video to students with disabilities . To do so, the Clinic argued in comments and at the hearing that  accessibility purposes were quintessential fair uses and should be the subject of an exemption from liability under Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

In late October 2018, the Copyright Office issued its Recommendation and the Librarian of Congress implemented final rules shortly thereafter, largely granting ATSP’s request, as summarized below.

Important caveat: this post is intended only as general information and does not constitute legal advice. If readers wish to utilize the new exemptions granted by the Librarian, they should consult independent legal counsel before doing so.

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Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS) (Updated x2!)

Today, the TLPC filed long-form comments before the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), our client Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), and a coalition of consumer groups and accessibility researchers. The Commission is considering updates and changes to the IP CTS program, which millions of Americans who are hard of hearing, deaf, and DeafBlind rely on to communicate on equal terms.

Update (Oct. 16): we’ve now filed two additional sets of comments, linked below.

Update (Nov. 15): we’ve filed a final set of reply comments, linked below.

Authorship and Accessibility in the Digital Age

(cross-posted from Authors Alliance)

The Internet has opened up the opportunity for creators to reach worldwide audiences. Authors can transmit digital creations in a matter of seconds by simply uploading an article or ebook, sharing a video, or posting a blog entry. But authors can reach an even wider audience if their digital creations are accessible to those with disabilities. Notwithstanding significant strides made toward making digital content more accessible over the past decade, the prevalence of inaccessible digital content continues to be problematic.

Last fall, Authors Alliance, the Silicon Flatirons Center, and the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology convened a group of content creators, technologists, attorneys, academics, and advocates to discuss the role of creators in making digital works more widely accessible to people with disabilities, reported by TLPC student attorneys.

The roundtable discussion focused on the unique role authors, educators, and libraries play in making digital works accessible; the benefits, obligations, and barriers around accessibility; the availability of authoring tools that facilitate accessibility; and the gaps for digital accessibility that technology and policy might fill.

That conversation led to the creation of the report, Authorship and Accessibility in the Digital Age, which distills these topics into a concise summary of the current landscape, as well as recommendations for further action. We gratefully acknowledge the support of Authors Alliance, Silicon Flatirons Center and the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology in making the roundtable and the report possible. We also thank Angel Antkers, Susan Miller, and Sophia Galleher, student attorneys in the TLPC, for their role in authoring this report; and Rob Haverty at Adobe Document Cloud for his assistance in creating an accessible PDF.

Small Satellites and University Research

(by Blake E. Reid, TLPC Director)

In collaboration with the University of Colorado aerospace engineering Professor Scott Palo and a coalition of other researchers, the TLPC filed comments before the Federal Communications Commission on a variety of issues in the Commission’s proposed new streamlined process for small satellites.

Update (August 7, 2018): we’ve also filed reply comments in the same proceeding.

Gone Fishin’ (kind of!)

The spring 2018 class of the TLPC is off to their summer clerkships and post-graduation endeavors! Blog posts and podcasts will return in the fall, but the TLPC will be open with an active docket this summer. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to collaborate on a project.