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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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.

Last Week in Tech Policy #68A: Who Needs the Right to be Forgotten?

(by Kristine Roach, Colorado Law 2L)

The right to erasure, colloquially known as the right be forgotten, has been adopted by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It gives individuals the right to have their personal data erased:

  • Where the personal data is no longer necessary in relation to the purpose for which it was originally collected/processed.
  • When the individual withdraws consent.
  • When the individual objects to the processing and there is no overriding legitimate interest for continuing the processing.
  • The personal data was unlawfully processed (i.e. otherwise in breach of the GDPR).
  • The personal data has to be erased in order to comply with a legal obligation.
  • The personal data is processed in relation to the offer of information society services to a child.

However, the right is not absolute and the requestee can refuse to erase data of the requestor for the following reasons:

  • to exercise the right of freedom of expression and information;
  • to comply with a legal obligation for the performance of a public interest task or exercise of official authority.
  • for public health purposes in the public interest;
  • archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific research historical research or statistical purposes; or
  • the exercise or defense of legal claims.

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Fair Use and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

(by Angel Antkers & Susan Miller, Colorado Law 2Ls—cross-posted from the Authors Alliance blog)

The fair use doctrine allows the unlicensed, unpermissioned use of a copyrighted work in certain situations. It functions, in part, to safeguard First Amendment interests in freedom of speech. But as the world moves toward more digital authorship and online content, fair use is encountering various obstacles.

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Last Week in Tech Policy: #60 Skating Around Copyright

(By Sophia Galleher, Colorado Law 2L)

First, think figure skating. Then, watch this—at minute 2:45 Jimmy Ma brings it, unzipping his jacket and giving a tongue wag à la Michael Jordan as his music breaks into a hip hop-electronic dance mix of “Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon. Surprised? Welcome to figure skating in 2018, where Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” are remnants of the past.

Ma’s routine epitomizes the impact of a 2014 rule change where the International Skating Union, in an attempt to inject life into a sport with waning popularity, agreed to allow skaters to use music backed by vocals in their routines. And the move has proven to be a success: within hours of his performance, Ma, an otherwise unremarkable figure skater—an 11th place finish at the U.S. National Championships in an Olympic year is hardly newsworthy—became an internet sensation, lighting up the Twitter feeds of both skaters and non-skaters alike. Ma’s routine is not alone. In 2017 a French pair team’s bone-chilling performance set to Disturbed’s rendition of “The Sound of Silence” went viral, generating over 30 million views.

But while the figure skating world is abuzz with excitement over the sport’s future, the 2014 rule change has simultaneously ushered in a host of copyright questions.

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TLPC Files Three DMCA Comments for Disability Services, Multimedia E-Books, and Security Research

Today, TLPC student attorneys filed three long form comments with the Copyright Office as part of the seventh triennial Section 1201 proceeding. Under Section 1201 of the DMCA, parties may petition the Copyright Office every three years to create or update exemptions when the DMCA adversely affects noninfringing activities.

Sophia Galleher filed a comment to enable better access to films and other copyrighted works for people with disabilities. Susan Miller and Angel Antkers, along with colleagues at the UC Irvine Intellectual Property, Art, and Technology (IPAT) Clinic, filed a comment to enable artistic expressions like fan fiction by expanding the allowed uses of multimedia e-books. Elizabeth Field and Justin Manusov filed a comment to better protect good faith security researchers.

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How the Rightsback.org Termination of Transfer Tool Helps Authors

The following is a cross post from Authors Alliance’s blog, by Luke Ewing, student attorney at the Colorado Law Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic. Luke was helped by his classmates Sean Doran and Andi Wilt, and their supervisor Blake Reid, at Colorado Law; and law students Eric Malmgren, Erica Row, and Julia Wu, and their supervisor Jack Lerner, at UC Irvine Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic for their assistance with the development of the Termination of Transfer tool and templates.

Erica Row, Julia Wu, Pamela Samuelson, Mike Wolfe, Eric Malmgren, and Jack Lerner (not pictured: Sean Doran, Luke Ewing, Andi Wilt, and Blake Reid)

Authors Alliance and Creative Commons recently released the Termination of Transfer tool at rightsback.org. You may be wondering what the tool does and how termination helps authors. Along with many other beta testers, student attorneys at the Colorado Law Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic and the UC-Irvine Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic helped verify that the tool accurately reflects the state of termination law. We scoured statutes, regulations, and case history to determine what is required to make the termination process go smoothly under a wide range of circumstances. We also tested the tool to ensure that its results accurately reflect the current state of the law. Finally, we drafted a standardized form and written guidance that make the paperwork simple once an author decides to exercise their termination right.

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