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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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.

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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