Authors Alliance and Allies Petition to Renew 1201 Exemption for Nonfiction Multimedia E-books

Posted July 22, 2020
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Today, Authors Alliance joined with allies to petition to renew the existing exemption to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that allows authors to bypass encryption to make fair use of film clips in nonfiction multimedia e-books.

While copyright law generally provides for exceptions like fair use that allow authors to use copyrighted works without permission in certain circumstances, some courts have held that these exceptions do not apply to the anti-circumvention provisions of Section 1201. Evading digital rights management (DRM), even when done for otherwise lawful purposes, may be prohibited by law. However, every three years, the Librarian of Congress is empowered to approve discrete, temporary exemptions from the law in order to carve out space for non-infringing uses caught up in the DMCA’s broad sweep.

In 2015 as a part of the U.S. Copyright Office’s sixth triennial rulemaking session, Authors Alliance joined with author Bobette Buster, the American Association of University Professors, and counsel from legal clinics at the UC Irvine Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic and the Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic at University of Colorado, Boulder to successfully petition for an exemption that allows authors to circumvent digital locks on Blu-rays, DVDs, and digitally transmitted videos to make fair uses in multimedia e-books offering film analysis. In the seventh triennial rulemaking, the Librarian of Congress expanded the exemption to all nonfiction multimedia ebooks.

Now, as the eighth triennial rulemaking cycle begins, our team has submitted a petition to renew this exemption. Authors Alliance believes that multimedia e-books are an important form of authorship and wants to see authors empowered to fully realize their promise. The freedom to author e-books that incorporate multimedia content, consistent with the core tenets of the First Amendment and academic freedom, remains significant and important. We will continue to track the progress of the rulemaking and provide updates as they become available.

We are grateful to the student attorneys and their supervisors at the Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic at UC Irvine School of Law and the Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic at University of Colorado School of Law for their work supporting this exemption.