Professors Permitted to Break Copy-Protection on DVDs

Professors Permitted to Break Copy-Protection on DVDs

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Finally, some good news on the fair-use front.

The U.S. Copyright Office has just announced six new exemptions to copyright law. One of them permits professors to break copy protection on DVDs in order to make compilations to use in class.

The AP covered the story thus:

The exemption granted to film professors authorizes the breaking of the CSS copy-protection technology found in most DVDs. Programs to do so circulate widely on the Internet, though it has been illegal to use or distribute them.

The professors said they need the ability to create compilations of DVD snippets to teach their classes — for example, taking portions of old and new cartoons to study how animation has evolved. Such compilations are generally permitted under “fair use” provisions of copyright law, but breaking the locks to make the compilations has been illegal.

Hollywood studios have argued that educators could turn to videotapes and other versions without the copy protections, but the professors argued that DVDs are of higher quality and may preserve the original colors or dimensions that videotapes lack.

“The record did not reveal any alternative means to meet the pedagogical needs of the professors,” [Librarian of Congress James H.] Billington wrote.

“U.S. Copyright Office issues new rights,” by ANICK JESDANUN, AP Internet Writer, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061123/ap_on_hi_te/digital_copyright

The Library of Congress’ official “Rulemaking on Exemptions from Prohibition on Circumvention of Technological Measures that Control Access to Copyrighted Works” says:

The Librarian of Congress, on the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, has announced the classes of works subject to the exemption from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. Persons making noninfringing uses of the following six classes of works will not be subject to the prohibition against circumventing access controls (17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)) during the next three years.

1. Audiovisual works included in the educational library of a college or university’s film or media studies department, when circumvention is accomplished for the purpose of making compilations of portions of those works for educational use in the classroom by media studies or film professors.

http://www.copyright.gov/1201/

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