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.

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

Today the TLPC filed three reply comments to the U.S. 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 modify exemptions when the DMCA adversely affects noninfringing activities. Opponents filed public comments in February responding to the initial long form comments filed in December.

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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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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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TLPC Files DMCA Exemption to Ease Making Video Accessible in Educational Settings

Last week, the TLPC continued its efforts to make copyrighted works more accessible to people with disabilities. On behalf of the TLPC’s client, the Association of Transcribers and Speech-to-text Providers (ATSP), as well as the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the American Library Association (ALA), and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) TLPC student attorneys Sophie Galleher, Angel Antkers, and Susan Miller filed a petition for an exemption from Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that would allow disability services offices, organizations that support people with disabilities, libraries, and other units at educational institutions to circumvent technological protection measures on videos to make them accessible, including through closed and open captions and audio description. The exemption will allow disability service offices, educational institutions, and libraries to better fulfill their legal and ethical obligations to make visual media more accessible to people with disabilities. The TLPC filed the petition as part of the U.S. Copyright Office’s triennial review of exemptions from the anti-circumvention measures in Section 1201.

TLPC Files DMCA Exemption Renewal for Security Research

(by Elizabeth Field and Justin Manusov, Student Attorneys)

TLPC Files DMCA Exemption Renewal

This week, TLPC student attorneys Elizabeth Field and Justin Manusov filed a petition with the Copyright Office to better protect good faith security researchers. The petition, along with another filed earlier this summer, seeks to renew and modify an exemption from Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which prohibits circumvention of technological access controls (such as digital rights management (DRM)) to copyrighted material. The modification specifically seeks to limit the potential risk of liability that good faith security researchers face in their work to protect consumers from security breaches and other harm. The TLPC filed the comment on behalf of the TLPC’s clients Prof. Ed Felten and Prof. J. Alex Halderman, who are both computer scientists whose research includes computer security and privacy.