life, the universe, and everything
all for naught
Posted: 2003-10-28 17:08
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Author: Phil Gengler
Section: Stuff

The Library Of Congress has just published 4 new exemptions to the DMCA's Section 1201 anti-circumvention protections.

For those of you who have no idea why I'm talking about this, these determinations mark the end of the comment/reply/hearing periods, during which I testified to the LOC in support of an exemption for viewing CSS-encrypted DVDs on alternative operating systems (ones without licensed DVD playback software). This class of work was not exempted, as the LOC believes the piracy risk outweighs a consumer's right to watch a DVD he/she purchased.

While most of the proposed classes were denied exemptions, four were granted. Censorware lists are probably the most notable, as a few months back there was the case of Edelman vs. N2H2, where Ben Edelman sued N2H2 to prevent them from suing him for compiling a list of sites blocked by N2H2's software. He didn't win the case, but he was won this exemption, and can proceed with the law on his side.

It's a shame that a list of URLs is copyrightable in the first place, considering that copyright is/was designed to protected creative works (music, art, books, etc), not a list of facts, which would seem to fall completely outside the realm of copyright.

The other exemptions that were granted are for software protected by a dongle, when the dongle is obsolete/damaged/malfunctioning, ebooks, when all electronic versions of the book are protected and prohibit read-aloud or viewing in a specialized format, and old video games and computer software only available on obsolete hardware or media. This last one might just pave the way for ROMs to gain legal acceptance, at least for old systems that you can't find anymore.

If you feel so inclined, I suggest reading the actual ruling [PDF] and the recommendations of Marybeth Peters (the Register of Copyrights) regarding the exemptions.


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