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Copyright Office Invites Public Comment on DMCA

Copyright Office Invites Public Comment on DMCA

by , 10:00 AM EST, November 21st, 2002

The DMCA's controversial prohibition on circumventing copy protection technologies is, once again, up for public comment. According to the Library of Congress' Copyright Office, the comments are requested as part of the DMCA's mandatory reviews process. The comments will be used to help determine whether the prohibitions are adversely affecting legitimate activities, such as criticism, research and news, and will also look at "the effect of circumvention of technological measures on the market for or value of copyrighted works."

Currently, there are only two exemptions to the prohibited technology: where a researcher is examining 'blacklist' filters, and where an obsolete method of copy protection has been used, preventing one from using legitimate tools to decrypt the content. In an article yesterday, ZDNet made note of the fact that these exemptions will expire in October of next year, and that any new rules arising from this decision-making process will not have a broad or practical application to those of us outside the research and reporting circles.

Comments were being accepted as of last Tuesday, November 19th, and will be accepted through to December 18th. The commenting process is open to all members of the public, but comments must be submitted in the correct format and with evidence to show that the exemptions you suggest are valid. You can read ZDNet's coverage in full, and view the Copyright Office's notice of inquiry. Comments can be submitted online with the Copyright Office's comments submission form.

The Mac Observer Spin:

With luck, the re-examination of these exemptions will introduce a more permissive atmosphere to allow journalists, researchers and other commentators and scholars to study copy protection technologies. Additionally, although this has little effect on the average consumer, the Copyright Office is also interested in looking at the effect that circumvention of copyright can have on the market. We can certainly expect the entertainment industry to bring their agenda to the forefront on this matter, as usual.

Although the submission process is fairly hefty -- it's not as easy as firing off an impassioned e-mail -- it's important that the public has an opportunity to participate in the discussion. The decisions made here will affect the DMCA for the the next three years, and that in turn will affect our ability to use copy-protected material in a way that is both fair and legal, so it's vital for all interested parties to be a part of the decision-making process.

We are currently discussing ways to speak out in our forums, and even if you're not intending to offer a comment on this issue, we invite you to talk about other ways that the average member of the public can contribute to the ongoing debate.

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