Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Important Copyright Development over the Summer

An important copyright ruling related to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and education occurred over the summer, in case you hadn't seen it:

Librarian of Congress Announces DMCA Section 1201 Rules for Exemptions Regarding Circumvention of Access-Control Technologies


OK, I admit to being a bit of a copyright wonk. But this is an important development in that it addresses the regular review of materials that can be exempted form the DMCA's draconian regulation concerning potential violations of the "circumvention of access-control technologies". While the TEACH Act does give back some of the old fair use protections that the old copyright law used to follow, these restrictions from the DMCA still trumped thos rights, and could result in serious fines being levied on users who chose to bypass those controls to utilize materials in a way that the copyright holder might not be most fond of.

NOTE: I do NOT condone the theft of intellectual property, particularly where someone is trying to make a profit from it - anyone who does is a short-sighted idiot. But I believe that there needs to be balance in the application of such rules and restrictions with the rights of those people who may wish to make use of copyrighted materials, particularly in the educational setting.

NOTE: An important caveat to add to this post, from a professional colleague who also works with copyright:

"More importantly, this exemption to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention rules really has nothing to do with the dispute between UCLA and AIME or with other projects to stream entire digital videos for teaching, in spite of what IHE suggests.  While such projects may or may not be justifiable, this exemption does nothing at all to change or define the boundaries of fair use; it merely carves out a portion of those uses, which the Registrar calls “classic fair use,” for which circumvention is now permitted."


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