Public Knowledge Proposes Changes To Copyright Technical Protection Law (and what's up with the DMCA rulemaking?)

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There is an interesting project going on over at Public Knowledge to develop model legislation to reform U.S. Copyright Law, and Thursday they announced their second report, "Updating 17 U.S.C. § 1201 for Innovators, Creators, and Consumers in the Digital Age".

This report addresses changes that were introduced in 1998 with the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DMCA added section 1201, which deals with Technological Protection Measures (TPM) (which are sometimes also known as Digital Rights Management or DRM). The Public Knowledge report proposes:

  • § 1201(a)(1) should be amended to allow circumvention for the purpose of making a non-infringing use of the protected work; and
  • § 1201(a)(2) and (b)(1) should be amended to permit the making and distribution of tools capable of enabling substantial non-infringing use of a work, in order to allow those making lawful uses the practical ability to circumvent.

An interesting side note as long as we're talking DMCA ... readers may remember that the Copyright Office conducted its third round of DMCA triennial rulemaking inquiry in 2009. From the official site: "The Copyright Office is conducting this rulemaking proceeding mandated by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which provides that the Librarian of Congress may exempt certain classes of works from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. " After several months of comments, replies, hearings, follow up questions, and follow up replies, a very brief notice in the Federal Register indicated that the Librarian of Congress was extending, on an interim basis, the exemptions established in the 2006 rulemaking, but noted ""[i]t is anticipated that this extension will be in effect for no more than a few weeks." That was back in October 2009, and there's been no news or updates since.