TLPC Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Accessibility, Security, and Repair Fair Users Urging DC Circuit to Strike Down Controversial Copyright Law as Unconstitutional

Led by Colorado Law student attorneys John Jang, Victoria Venzor, and Peter Troupe, the TLPC today filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on behalf of a coalition of accessibility, security, and repair individuals and organizations, supporting the lawsuit of security researcher Dr. Matthew Green and others, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, over a controversial copyright law. The brief urged the court to conclude that Section 1201 of Title 17 of the U.S. Code, added by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, violates the First Amendment by chilling fair uses aimed at making copyrighted works accessible to people with disabilities, researching security vulnerabilities in computer software, and repairing software-enabled vehicles and devices. Section 1201 prohibits the circumvention of technological protection measures (TPMs) on copyrighted works, requiring accessibility, security, and repair organizations to pursue exemptions in a burdensome triennial rulemaking conducted by the U.S. Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. The brief details the substantive and procedural harms of Section 1201 and the rulemaking to the First Amendment rights of people with disabilities, disability services organizations and libraries, security researchers, and ordinary consumers and repair professionals.

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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