The Problem – Video remixing (vidding, fan vids, political remix, etc.) is a vibrant form of creativity. Vidders create fun, challenging and important social and political commentary that is reaching ever broader audiences. But getting access to timely and good-quality video clips sometimes requires breaking the encryption on DVDs, or legally streamed or downloaded video (when the material needed is not available on DVD). And breaking this encryption, using readily accessible programs like DeCSS, could violate Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which carries stiff penalties.
The Solution – EFF is asking the Copyright Office to declare that breaking the encryption on DVDs in order to use video clips in primarily noncommercial videos does not violate the DMCA. The Copyright Office granted a similar exemption in 2010, thanks in large part to comments from people like you. But the exemption will expire unless the Office renews it. EFF is also asking for a new exemption for breaking the encryption on video from online download or streaming services, for video that’s not available on DVD. Note: To be clear, the requests don’t apply to content obtained via bittorrent or other P2P file-sharing programs, because using those sources doesn’t require decryption.
How You Can Help – The Copyright Office needs to hear from people who make, study, and comment on video remixes, and who depend on the ability of remixers to break the encryption on DVDs and legally streamed/downloaded video in order to get source material. If you’d like to help you can either
(1) contact the Organization for Transformative Works, which is collecting comments in support of EFF’s requests, at email@example.com; or
(2) you can submit comments yourself via this link. Where the form says “Comment number(s) of proposed classes of works to which you are responding,” enter “7B” (if your comments are primarily focused on decrypting DVDs), or “7C” (if your comments are primarily focused on decrypting legally streamed or downloaded video where the video is not available on DVD).
Here are some questions you might want to address in your comments:
1. Why are you interested in making sure video remixing isn’t chilled by legal threats? Are you a documentarist, video editor, independent vidder, film or media studies teacher, student, enthusiast, critic, journalist, etc?
2. If you make videos, why? What message or statement do your videos convey? What audience do you want to reach?
3. Why do you use sources that require decryption? (e.g., DVDs, Amazon Unbox)?
4. How important is it that the video clips you use are high quality?
5. How important to you is getting timely video clips of current events?
6. Is there anything else you want to tell the Copyright Office?
Concrete examples and personal stories will show the Copyright Office how the DMCA threatens the vibrant culture of video remixing and why it should grant an exemption.
Comments are due by February 10 at 5 PM Eastern Time. After you send comments to the Copyright Office, please also send a copy of your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can see what people are saying.