Copyright Office Issues DMCA Exemptions

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) prohibits circumvention of access control devices in copyrighted works to obtain an unauthorized copy of such work.   However, the DMCA authorizes the Librarian of Congress to make a determination every three years whether certain  classes of work should be exempted from such anti-circumvention restrictions.  In furtherance of that statutory obligation, the Librarian of Congress within the past week designated six classes of work as being exempt from those restrictions.  Thus, as noted in the statement issued by the Copyright Office, “[p]ersons who circumvent access controls in order to engage in noninfringing uses of works in these six classes will not be subject to the statutory prohibition against circumvention.” 

The six classes, briefly summarized, are: (1) use of short portions of certain motion pictures on DVDs for criticism or comment; (2) computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications for enabling interoperability; (3) computer programs, in the form of firmware or software, that enable used wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telecommunications network to connect to a wireless telecommunications network; (4) video games accessible on personal computers and protected access control measures to test, investigate or correct security; (5) computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access due to malfunction or damage and which are obsolete; and (6) literary works distributed in e-book format when all existing e-book editions of the work prevent the book’s read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a specialized format.   (Items (2) and (3) have been popularly referred to as the iPhone “jailbreaking” exceptions, which would allow use on iPhones of  apps not authorized by Apple as well as connection with mobile carriers other than Apple’s designated carrier of AT&T.)

Link to Copyright Office Statement:

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