TLPC Files Amicus Brief in Constitutional Challenge of Controversial Copyright Law

Led by student attorneys Alexys Aylward, Kevin Nguyen, and Manuela Ramirez Cruz, this week TLPC filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on behalf of a coalition of fair users in support of a constitutional challenge to a controversial copyright law.

Enacted in 1998, Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) bars the circumvention of “technological protection measures” (TPMs) indented to protect copyrighted works from unauthorized reproduction, unless one obtains permission from the Copyright Office through a tedious rulemaking process that occurs once every three years. A lawsuit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on behalf of noted security researcher Matthew Green and several others challenges the constitutionality of Section 1201 under the First Amendment, in view of the burdens the provision imposes on the free speech rights of Americans.

The TLPC’s amicus brief on behalf of a coalition of accessibility organizations, libraries and archival organizations, and computer security researches explains how Section 1201 violates the First Amendment by preventing them from making fair uses of copyrighted materials encumbered by TPMsā€”unless they subject themselves to the burdensome and undignified process of obtaining an exemption from the Copyright Office. The brief argues that the burdens of participating in the exemption process, combined with the fact that the exemption process is available only once every three years, are beyond what the First Amendment can bear.

This week’s brief marks the second time the TLPC has represented a diverse coalition of fair users in this case, which was first filed in 2016. The Court is expected to decide the case in the new year.

The signatories of the brief drafted by the TLPC are:

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
The American Library Association (ALA)
Andrew W. Appel
The Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD)
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL)
The Association of Transcribers and Speech-to-Text Providers (ATSP)
The Software Preservation Network
Steven M. Bellovin
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Haring, Inc (TDI).

The brief can be downloaded by clicking here or on the image below.

Cover of TLPC Amicus Brief in Green v. Department of Justice.