Copyright Office Initiates Rulemaking Proceeding to Review Petitions for DMCA Exemptions


The United States Copyright Office (Office) has initiated the seventh triennial rulemaking proceeding under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to consider applications for exemptions to the prohibition against circumventing technical protection measures (TPMs) used by copyright owners to protect their works. Section 1201 of the DMCA makes it illegal to circumvent TPMs used by copyright owners to protect their works, except under some permanent exceptions such as activities of libraries, archives, and educational institutions, law enforcement activities, reverse engineering, encryption research, and security testing. TPMs include measures protecting against unauthorized access to a copyrighted work (i.e., a password requirement) as well as protecting against unauthorized uses (i.e., prevention of digital copying). Section 1201 establishes distinct legal remedies for the circumvention of certain types of TPMs, as well as against trafficking in devices and services primarily designed for circumvention. The goal of the proceeding is to determine whether the bar on circumvention is having or is likely to have in the next three years, an adverse effect on users’ ability to make non-infringing uses of a particular class of copyrighted works. The Office has also streamlined the renewal process for existing exemptions. Renewal petitions are due by July 31, 2017, comments in response to any petitions for renewal are due by September 13, 2017, and petitions proposing new exemptions are due by September 13, 2017.


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