TLPC Advocates for Expansion of Video Accessibility Exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA

(by Scott Goodstein, Colorado Law 3L)

On April 5, 2021, the TLPC—on behalf of the Association of Transcribers and Speech-to-Text Providers (ATSP), along with ATSP’s past president Jason Kapcala and Jonathan Band of the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), presented at the Eighth Triennial Section 1201 Rulemaking Hearing in support of the Proposed Class 3 exemption to the anti-circumvention provisions of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Section 1201 prohibits users from circumventing technological protective measures (TPMs) that control access to copyrighted works, but allows them to apply for and receive temporary exemptions for a variety of noninfringing uses. The petition for the Proposed Class 3 exemption was filed on behalf of ATSP and in partnership with the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and the LCA.

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TLPC Advocates for Expansion of E-Book Accessibility Exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA

On April 5, 2021, the TLPC, on behalf of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and a coalition of other organizations, appeared at a hearing before the U.S. Copyright Office to urge expansion of an existing exemption from the the anticircumvention measures of Section of 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that allows the remediation of e-books into accessible formats. The expansions were designed to help the U.S. fulfill its obligations under the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. The public hearing was one of the final stages in the eighth triennial rulemaking proceeding under Section 1201, which provides that the Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, may adopt temporary exemptions to section 1201’s prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works.

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TLPC Advocates for Broad Accessibility Exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA

(by Rachel Hersch, Colorado Law 2L)

On April 5, 2021, the TLPC, on behalf of its client the American Council for the Blind (ACB), and joined by a broad coalition of disability organizations, appeared at a hearing before the Copyright Office to urge adoption of a broad accessibility exemption from the anti-circumvention provisions of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The proposed exemption would remove roadblocks to access to digital works for people with disabilities. TPMs limit people with disabilities’ access to digital works because TPMs often block assistive technology. For example, a person may be prevented from watching a lawfully acquired video because the video’s TPMs block color-shifting technology, which the person needs to be able to watch the video. The proposed exemption would allow that person to lawfully circumvent this TPM in order to utilize the assistive color-shifting technology.

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TLPC Advocates for Expansion of Security Research Exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA

(by Wilson D. Scarbeary, Colorado Law 3L)

Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) prohibits the circumvention of technological protection measures (TPMs) that control access to copyrighted works. Every three years, the Copyright Office holds a rulemaking to consider temporary exemptions to this prohibition on circumvention of TPMs for noninfringing activities such as accessibility, repair, and security research.

Security research has become a critical aspect of our modern cybersecurity architecture, and renewing and expanding this exemption is critical to enable security research into devices ranging from voting machines to personal devices. The TLPC took part in the development of an early temporary exemption for security research in 2008, and has participated in each triennial review since then. This cycle, the TLPC worked on behalf of our client, Professor J. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan, along with the Center for Democracy and Technology and the United States Technology Policy Committee of the Association of Computing Machinery.

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TLPC Files Comments in the Eighth Section 1201 Triennial Review

Today, the TLPC filed a series of comments in the Copyright Office’s Eighth Triennial Review of exemptions from the anticircumvention measures of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Section 1201 prohibits the circumvention of technological protective measures (TPMs) that control access to copyrighted works, but allows stakeholders to apply for and receive broader temporary exemptions for a variety of noninfringing uses. The TLPC filed comments on four exemptions, one focused on security research and the other three on various accessibility purposes.

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TLPC Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Print Disability Advocates in Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org

On October 16, 2019, the TLPC filed a brief of amici curiae in the matter of Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org, a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States involving the copyrightability of annotations to state law. The TLPC filed the brief of amici curiae on behalf of print disability advocate organizations American Association of the Deaf-Blind, American Council of the Blind, Burton Blatt Institute, Disability Rights Advocates, National Federation of the Blind, World Institute on Disability, and individual print researcher and advocate Sina Bahram. The brief addresses concerns about Georgia’s failure to provide its laws to those with print disabilities in accessible forms as required by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As part of its wider project to promote free and open access to the law, Public.Resource.Org has undertaken to make the law accessible to those with print disabilities. The brief also raises concerns about Georgia’s use of copyright law to quash efforts to provide the accessible information which Georgia has itself failed to provide and underscored that making works accessible to those with disabilities is an uncontroversially non-infringing fair use.

The FTC’s Right to Repair Inquiry and the Copyright Office’s Section 1201 Proceedings

(by Blake Reid, TLPC Director and Kayla Enriquez and Sarah Rippy, Colorado Law 2Ls)

The Federal Trade Commission is conducting a workshop entitled Nixing the Fix, which is aimed at exploring issues around the right to repair. In our submission to the Commission, we have submitted a curated archive of the record developed during the Copyright Office’s various proceedings that have raised repair-related issues, including its 2012, 2015, and 2018 triennial reviews of exemptions from Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, its 1201 Policy Study, and its Software-Enabled Consumer Products Study.

TLPC Presents on Disability and Copyright at WIPO SCCR/38

(by Colleen McCroskey, Colorado Law 2L)

From left to right: TLPC Student Attorney Kevin Doss, Prof. Blake Reid, Prof. Caroline Ncube, TLPC Student Attorney John Schoppert, UCT Doctoral Candidate Charlene Musiza, UCT Post-Doctoral Researcher Desmond Oriakhogba, and TLPC Student Attorney John Schoppert

TLPC student attorneys Colleen McCroskey, Kevin Doss, and John Schoppert, along with TLPC Director Blake Reid and colleagues from the University of Cape Town, including Prof. Caroline Ncube recently presented to the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on the intersection of copyright law and disability.

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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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TLPC Releases White Paper on Intellectual Property Issues at the FCC

In this white paper, TLPC student attorneys Colter Donahue and J. Parker Ragland outline steps that the FCC can take to avoid having rulemakings and other policymaking initiatives delayed or negatively affected by intellectual property issues. In recent years, the Commission has faced several situations, including in the context of 9-1-1 services, telecommunications relay services, and set-top boxes, where intellectual property issues have arisen and affected proceedings. The white paper urges the Commission to develop adequate expertise in intellectual property law and to proactively anticipate and address IP issues to avoid these situations in the future.