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EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 30 - Librarian of Congress Fails Public Interest in Copyright Regulation


EFFector - Volume 16, Issue 30 - Librarian of Congress Fails Public Interest in Copyright Regulation

EFFector       Vol. 16, No. 30       November 1, 2003

A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

In the 269th Issue of EFFector:

Librarian of Congress Fails Public Interest in Copyright Regulation

Ignores Fair Uses of DVDs and CDs

Washington, DC - The Librarian of Congress this week continued to disregard consumers' rights and denied exemptions to copyright law related to consumers' use of CDs and DVDs that they legally purchase.

EFF had urged the Register of Copyrights and the Librarian of Congress to grant exemptions to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) ban on circumventing technological locks. These digital locks, known as "digital rights management" (DRM) systems, limit how consumers can play and view their CDs and DVDs.

"Consumers are the real losers in today's ruling, because the Librarian of Congress is ignoring the rights of nearly everyone who has purchased CDs and DVDs," said EFF Staff Attorney Gwen Hinze. "We're disappointed that the Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress did not recognize the significant impact that the DMCA is having on millions of consumers' ability to make reasonable uses of digital media they've purchased."

The Copyright Office did grant exemptions for the following activities:

  1. Decoding lists of Web pages or directories blocked by Internet filtering software, also known as censorware. EFF Pioneer Award recipient Seth Finkelstein was instrumental in lobbying for censorware exemptions to the DMCA for each U.S. Copyright Office rulemaking period.
  2. Circumventing obsolete digital rights management devices called dongles that prevent access due to malfunction or damage. The Internet Archive requested this exemption.
  3. Accessing computer programs and video games distributed in obsolete formats. The Internet Archive requested this exemption.
  4. Accessing ebooks for which the publisher has disabled the read-aloud function or the ability to use screen readers to render the text into a specialized format, such as Braille for access by the blind. The American Foundation for the Blind and five major library associations requested this exemption.

"Although the exemptions granted by the Librarian of Congress are important, today's ruling just underscores the need for legislative reform of the DMCA to restore the balance in U.S. Copyright law," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann.


Nominate a Pioneer for EFF's 2004 Pioneer Awards

EFF established the Pioneer Awards to recognize leaders on the electronic frontier who are extending freedom and innovation in the realm of information technology. This is your opportunity to nominate a deserving individual or group to receive a Pioneer Award for 2004.

The International Pioneer Awards nominations are open both to individuals and organizations from any country.

All nominations are reviewed by a panel of judges chosen for their knowledge of the technical, legal, and social issues associated with information technology.

This year's award ceremony will be held in Berkeley, CA, in conjunction with the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference (CFP), which takes place in mid-April.

How to Nominate Someone for a 2004 Pioneer Award:

You may send as many nominations as you wish, but please use one email per nomination. Please submit your entries via email to We will accept nominations until February 1, 2004.

Simply tell us:
1. The name of the nominee,
2. the phone number or email address at which the nominee can be reached, and, most importantly,
3. why you feel the nominee deserves the award.

You may attach supporting documentation as RTF files, Microsoft Word documents or other common binary or plain text formats.

Nominee Criteria:

There are no specific categories for the EFF Pioneer Awards, but the following guidelines apply:

  1. The nominees must have contributed substantially to the health, growth, accessibility, or freedom of computer-based communications.
  2. The contribution may be technical, social, economic, or cultural.
  3. Nominations may be of individuals, systems, or organizations in the private or public sectors.
  4. Nominations are open to all (other than current members of EFF's staff and board or this year's award judges), and you may nominate more than one recipient. You may also nominate yourself or your organization.
  5. To be valid, all nominations must contain your reason, however brief, for nominating the individual or organization and a means of contacting the nominee. In addition, while anonymous nominations will be accepted, ideally we'd like to contact the nominating parties in case we need further information.
  6. Persons or representatives of organizations receiving an EFF Pioneer Award will be invited to attend the ceremony at EFF's expense.

Nominate a Pioneer:

Oops--We Goofed: EFF Still Seeks Media Interns, Spanish Translator

Due to a technical glitch in our web forms, EFF did not receive applications for the intern/volunteer positions advertised in last week's EFFector. Below is the original announcement; we encourage you to apply.

EFF seeks Media Interns to help us with media interview assignments, media releases, media professional relationships, and mediabase and media coverage archival. Interns must be located in the San Francisco Bay Area, and they must be able to come into the EFF office in San Francisco at least two days per week.

We also seek a volunteer to translate into Spanish the EFF report, "Unintended Consequences: Five Years Under the DMCA." Ideally, the volunteer will be familiar with both legal and technical terminology.


Deep Links

Deep Links features noteworthy news items from around the Internet.

  • The MATRIX: Total Information Awareness Reloaded
    The ACLU takes aim at a TIA-like, state-level surveillance program called "MATRIX." Yes, that's really what it's called. No, we don't know what they were thinking.
  • Patently Ridiculous
    The FTC wants better patent law before the USPTO grants protection for the process of using "letters" to spell "words".
  • Movie Studios Say DVDs Are Easier to Copy than Tapes. Huh?
    Hollywood's compromise over pre-Academy Awards "screeners"? It will use VHS tapes instead of "easily copied DVDs".
  • Gray Hats Ride the Brazilian Frontier (Registration unfortunately required.)
    How do you spell "0wnz0r3d" in Portuguese?
  • Salon on the Broadcast Flag (Ad-view nonsense required.)
    Farhad Manjoo provides an accessible overview of the broadcast flag controversy.
  • Online Music Business, Neither Quick Nor Sure (Registration unfortunately required.)
    NYT piece capturing the compromise and deflation that characterize today's music-downloading landscape.
  • No Wonder My Brain Hurts
    UC Berkeley reports that humans created 5 "exabytes" of information in 2002.
  • Brilliant Copyright Hack
    Copyright law means that college kids can't have on-demand digital music. Or does it? At MIT, the Library Access to Music Project (LAMP) takes advantage of existing music licenses to offer an innovative lawsuit-free service.
  • Or Maybe Not
    Recording industry representatives now claim that Loudeye, the company that provided music to LAMP, didn't have the right to do so.
  • Diebold Deja Vu
    Software code used in Sequoia Voting Systems has been leaked on the Internet, raising concern that the systems have been compromised by criminal intruders.
  • Verifiable Voting in Maryland
    A grassroots effort aims to get paper audit trails for Maryland elections.
  • DMCA v. Democratic Speech
    Ed Foster on the frightening ease with which copyright law can be used to silence legitimate speech.
  • SunnComm v. Halderman Recap
    USA Today puts a human face on the CD copy-protection "shift key" story from a few weeks back.

Staff Calendar

For a complete listing of EFF speaking engagements (with locations and times), please visit:


EFFector is published by:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation
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Donna Wentworth, Web Writer/Activist

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