DMCA Rulemaking

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act prohibits "circumventing" digital rights management (DRM) and "other technical protection measures" used to protect copyrighted works. While this ban was meant to deter copyright infringement many have misused the law to chill competition free speech and fair use. Every three years the U.S. Copyright Office convenes a rulemaking to consider granting exemptions to the DMCA's ban on circumvention to mitigate the harms the law has caused to legitimate non-infringing uses of copyrighted materials.

In 2003 EFF filed for four exemptions all seeking to allow consumers to repair DRM-crippled CDs and DVDs. All four exemptions were denied.

In 2006 EFF did not file any DMCA exemption requests. Instead we explained why the rulemaking process is fundamentally broken.

In 2009 EFF sought three exemptions: One to allow video remixing and two to allow cell phone unlocking. In a huge victory for digital rights all three exemptions were granted.

In 2012 EFF sought to build on expand the exemptions won in the 2009 rulemaking. EFF asked the Copyright Office to protect the "jailbreaking" of smartphones, electronic tablets, and video game consoles.  EFF also asked for legal protections for artists and critics who use excerpts from DVDs or downloading services to create new, remixed works. The Copyright Office renewed the exemption for smartphones, but did not extend it to other devices. The Copyright Office also reaffirmed the exemption for video remix, and expanded it to allow use of clips from online services.

In 2015 EFF is seeking six exemptions: Enabling security professionals to conduct research into the safety and security of vehicles; Allowing automobile owners to circumvent restrictions to repair and personalize their vehicles; Legal protections for circumventing DRM to extract clips to create new and remixed audiovisual works from streaming sources; "Jailbreaking" of mobile computing devices such as smartphones and tablets to enable interoperability and remove unwanted software; Circumventing DRM in DVDs and Blu-Ray discs to extract clips; Enabling users to circumvent DRM to restore access to games abandoned by their developers.

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