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Librarian of Congress Fails Public Interest in Copyright Regulation

October 28, 2003

Librarian of Congress Fails Public Interest in Copyright Regulation

Ignores Fair Uses of DVDs and CDs

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

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (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 that
prevent consumers from fully enjoying the digital media that
they own. These digital locks, technically known as "digital
rights management" systems, limit how consumers can play and
view their CDs and DVDs.

Specifically, EFF had asked the Copyright Office to allow
consumers to:

  1. Play copy-protected audio CDs that malfunction to prevent
    playback
  2. View foreign region-coded DVD movies on U.S. players
  3. Fast-forward through unskippable commercials prior to
    movies on DVDs
  4. Play and make full use of public domain movies on 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."

"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," commented EFF Senior
Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann.

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.

Links:

Contact:

Fred von Lohmann
  Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
  Electronic Frontier Foundation

  fred@eff.org

Gwen Hinze
  Staff Attorney
  Electronic Frontier Foundation
  gwen@eff.org

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