Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
The Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, has determined that the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that effectively control access to copyrighted works shall not apply to persons who engage in noninfringing uses of certain classes of works. This rulemaking is the culmination of a proceeding initiated by the Register on September 29, 2011. A more comprehensive statement of the background and legal requirements of the rulemaking, a discussion of the record, and the Register's analysis are set forth in the Register's Recommendation, which was transmitted to the Librarian on October 12, 2012. A copy of the Recommendation may be found at
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) was enacted to implement certain provisions of the WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. It established a wide range of rules for the digital marketplace that govern not only copyright owners, but also consumers, manufacturers, distributors, libraries, educators, and online service providers.
Chapter 12 of Title 17 of the United States Code prohibits the circumvention of certain technological measures employed by or on behalf of copyright owners to protect their works (“technological measures” or “access controls”). Specifically, Section 1201(a)(1)(A) provides, in part, that “[n]o person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected” by the Copyright Act. In order to ensure that the public will have the continued ability to engage in noninfringing uses of copyrighted works, however, subparagraph (B) limits this prohibition. It provides that the prohibition shall not apply to persons who are users of a copyrighted work in a particular class of works if such persons are, or in the
The proceeding is conducted by the Register of Copyrights, who is to provide notice of the proceeding, seek comments from the public, consult with the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information of the Department of Commerce, and recommend final regulations to the Librarian of Congress. According to Section 1201(a)(1)(D), the resulting regulations, which are issued by the Librarian of Congress, announce “any class of copyrighted works for which the Librarian has determined, pursuant to the rulemaking * * * that noninfringing uses by persons who are users of a copyrighted work are, or are likely to be, adversely affected, and the prohibition contained in subparagraph (A) shall not apply to such users with respect to such class of works for the ensuing 3-year period.”
The primary responsibility of the Register and the Librarian in this rulemaking proceeding is to assess whether the implementation of access control measures is diminishing the ability of individuals to use copyrighted works in ways that are not infringing and to designate any classes of works with respect to which users have been adversely affected in their ability to make such noninfringing uses. Congress intended that the Register solicit input that would enable consideration of a broad range of current or likely future adverse impacts. Section 1201(a)(1)(C) directs that the rulemaking proceeding examine: (1) The availability for use of copyrighted works; (2) the availability for use of works for nonprofit archival, preservation, and educational purposes; (3) the impact that the prohibition on the circumvention of technological measures applied to copyrighted works has on criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research; (4) the effect of circumvention of technological measures on the market for or value of copyrighted works; and (5) such other factors as the Librarian considers appropriate. These statutory factors require the Register and Librarian to balance carefully the availability of copyrighted works for use, the effect of the prohibition on particular uses, and the effect of circumvention on copyrighted works.
In examining the factors set forth in Section 1201(a)(1)(C), the focus is on whether the implementation of technological measures has an adverse impact on the ability of users to make lawful uses of copyrighted works. The statutory prohibition on circumvention is presumed to apply to any and all kinds of works unless, and until, the criteria have been met for a particular class.
In each rulemaking proceeding, the Register and Librarian review the proposed classes
Proponents of an exemption for a class of works bear the burden of demonstrating that the exemption is warranted. In order to establish a
There are several types of noninfringing uses that could be affected by the prohibition of Section 1201(a)(1), including fair use and the use of public domain works, among others. A proponent must show that the proposed use is or is likely noninfringing. It is not sufficient that the use could be noninfringing, as the Register does not apply a “rule of doubt” when it is unclear whether a proposed use is likely to be fair or otherwise noninfringing.
A proponent may not rely on speculation to support a proposed class, but instead must show by a preponderance of evidence that the alleged harm to noninfringing uses is more likely than not to occur during the next three years. The harm must be distinct and measurable, and more than
The starting point in defining a “particular class” of works to be designated as a result of the rulemaking is one of the categories of works set forth in Section 102 of the Copyright Act, such as literary works, musical works, or sound recordings. Those categories are only a starting point, however; a “class” will generally constitute some subset of a Section 102 category. The determination of the appropriate scope of a class of works recommended for exemption will also depend on the evidentiary record and take into account the adverse impact on noninfringing uses, as well as the market for and value of the copyrighted works.
While beginning with a category of works identified in Section 102, or a subcategory thereof, the description of the “particular class” ordinarily will be refined with reference to other factors so that the scope of the class is proportionate to the scope of harm to noninfringing uses. For example, a class might be refined in part by reference to the medium on which the works are distributed, or to the access control measures applied to the works. The description of a class of works may also be refined, in appropriate cases, by reference to the type of user who may take advantage of the exemption or the type of use that may be made pursuant to the designation. The class must be properly tailored to address not only the demonstrated harm, but also to limit the adverse consequences that may result from the exemption to the prohibition on circumvention. In every case, the contours of a class will depend on the factual record established in the rulemaking proceeding.
This is the fifth triennial rulemaking proceeding pursuant to Section 1201(a)(1)(C). The Register initiated the rulemaking on September 29, 2011 (76 FR 60398) with publication of a Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”). The NOI requested written comments from all interested parties, including representatives of copyright owners, educational institutions, libraries and archives, scholars, researchers, and members of
During the initial comment period that ended on December 1, 2011, the Copyright Office received 22 comments, all of which were posted on the Office's Web site. Based on these comments, the Register identified proposed exemptions for the upcoming period. Because some of the initial comments contained similar or overlapping proposals, the Copyright Office organized the proposals into ten proposed classes of works, and set forth and summarized each class in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) published on December 20, 2011 (76 FR 78866).
The NPRM did not present the initial classes in the form of a proposed rule, but merely as “a starting point for further consideration.” The NPRM asked interested parties to submit additional comments and reply comments providing support, opposition, clarification, or correction regarding the proposed classes of works, and to provide factual and/or legal arguments in support of their positions. The Copyright Office received a total of 674 comments before the comment period closed on February 10, 2012. The Office also received 18 reply comments before the reply comment period closed on March 2, 2012.
On March 15, 2012, the Register published a Notice indicating that public hearings would be conducted at the University of California, UCLA School of Law, in California, and at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, in May and June 2012 to consider the proposed exemptions. Requests to testify were due April 2, 2012. Public hearings were held on five separate days: at the Library of Congress on May 11, 2012; at University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law on May 17, 2012; and at the Library of Congress on May 31, June 4, and June 5, 2012. Witnesses representing proponents and opponents of proposed classes of works offered testimony and answered questions from Copyright Office staff.
Following the hearings, the Copyright Office sent follow-up questions pertaining to certain issues to witnesses who had testified. The purpose of these written inquiries was to clarify for the record certain statements made during the hearings and to elicit further responses to questions raised at the hearings.
As contemplated by Congress, the Register also sought input from the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information of the Department of Commerce, who oversees the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”). NTIA staff were briefed on the rulemaking process and informed of developments through a series of meetings and telephone conferences. They also were in attendance at many of the hearings.
NTIA formally communicated its views on the proposed classes in a letter delivered to the Register on September 21, 2012.
Upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, the Librarian has determined that the following classes of works shall be exempt from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures set forth in Section 1201(a)(1)(A):
Literary works, distributed electronically, that are protected by technological measures which either prevent the enabling of read-aloud functionality or interfere with screen readers or other applications or assistive technologies, (i) when a copy of such a work is lawfully obtained by a blind or other person with a disability, as such a person is defined in 17 U.S.C. 121; provided, however, the rights owner is remunerated, as appropriate, for the price of the mainstream copy of the work as made available to the general public through customary channels; or (ii) when such work is a nondramatic literary work, lawfully obtained and used by an authorized entity pursuant to 17 U.S.C. 121.
This exemption is a modification of the proponents' proposal. It permits the circumvention of literary works that are distributed electronically to allow blind and other persons with disabilities to obtain books through the open market and use screen readers and other assistive technologies to read them, regardless of whether an accessible copy may be available for purchase, but provided the author, publisher, or other rights owner receives remuneration, as appropriate. It also permits authorized entities operating under Section 121 to use such works and ensures that such use conforms to the provisions and safeguards of that section.
Proponents American Council of the Blind and American Foundation for the Blind, supported by The Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic at the University of Colorado Law School, sought an exemption to access literary works that are distributed electronically—
Proponents asserted that the exception is necessary because technological measures to control access to copyrighted works have been developed and deployed in ways that prevent access to ebooks by people who are blind or visually impaired. Proponents explained that, despite the rapid growth of the ebook market, most ebook titles remain inaccessible due to fragmentation within the industry and differing technical standards and accessibility capabilities across platforms. Although precise figures remain elusive, press accounts cited by the proponents suggest that only a fraction of the publicly available ebooks are accessible; proponents estimated that there are approximately 1.8 million inaccessible ebook titles. Proponents cited an example,
Joint Creators and Copyright Owners, consisting of the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Media Photographers, the Business Software Alliance, the Entertainment Software Association, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Picture Archive Council of America, and the Recording Industry Association of America (“Joint Creators”), representing various content owner groups, offered no objection in principle
When the Register was first called upon to consider an exemption for ebooks in 2003, the marketplace was very different. At that time, ebooks were distributed primarily for use on personal computers (“PCs”), readable with freely available software, and the public's reception of ebooks was tentative. Today, ebooks are marketed mainly for use on mobile devices, ranging from dedicated ebook readers using proprietary software (
The Register determined that the statutory factors of Section 1201(a)(1)(C) strongly favor an exempted class to address the adverse effects that were established in the record. The designated class is not merely a matter of convenience, but is instead intended to enable individuals who are blind or visually impaired to have meaningful access to the same content that individuals without such impairments are able to perceive. As proponents explained, their desire is simply to be able to access lawfully acquired content. In short, the exemption is designed to permit effective access to a rapidly growing array of ebook content by a population that would otherwise go without.
NTIA also indicated its support for the adoption of an exemption, noting that “[r]equiring visually impaired Americans to invest hundreds of dollars in an additional device (or even multiple additional devices), particularly when an already-owned device is technically capable of rendering literary works accessible, is not a reasonable alternative to circumvention * * *.”
Explaining that literary works are distributed electronically in a wide range of formats, not all of which are necessarily widely understood to constitute “ebooks,” NTIA noted that it preferred the more general term “literary works, distributed electronically.”
At the hearing, proponents confirmed that it was not their intent to create a situation where publishers are not getting paid for their works, and that the author or publisher should be compensated for the price of the mainstream book available to the general public. Thus, the first prong of the designated class permits circumvention by blind or other persons with disabilities, effectively ensuring that they have access through the open market, while also ensuring that rights owners receive appropriate remuneration.
The second prong of the proposal (the part that would extend the exemption to authorized entities) is a new consideration; it has not been the subject of a prior Section 1201 rulemaking and proponents did not provide extensive analysis. Nonetheless, the Register found that the proposal was supported by relevant evidence and thus recommended that authorized entities should enjoy an exemption to the extent required to carry out their work under Section 121. The Register recommended some modifications to the proposal as written to ensure that it is consistent with, but not an enlargement of, Section 121. In relevant part, Section 121 permits qualified “authorized entities” to reproduce and distribute nondramatic literary works provided the resulting copies are in “specialized formats exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities.”
In her recommendation, the Register noted that several provisions in Section 121 appear ill-suited to the digital world and could benefit from comprehensive review by Congress. Section 121 was enacted in 1996 following careful consideration of the public interest, including the interests of persons with disabilities and the interest of authors and other copyright owners. The issues relating to digital uses are complex and deserving of consideration beyond what can be accomplished in this proceeding.
Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute lawfully obtained software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications with computer programs on the telephone handset.
This exemption is a modification of the proponents' proposal. It permits the circumvention of computer programs on mobile phones to enable interoperability of non-vendor-approved software applications (often referred to as “jailbreaking”), but does not apply to tablets—as had been requested by proponents—because the record did not support it.
Proponent Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”), joined by New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative, New Media Rights, Mozilla Corporation (“Mozilla”), and the Free Software Foundation (“FSF”), as well as several hundred individual supporters, sought an exemption to permit the circumvention of access controls on wireless devices so that the devices can be used with non-vendor-approved software that is lawfully acquired. In 2010, the Register recommended, and the Librarian designated, a class that permitted circumvention of technological measures on certain telephone handsets known as “smartphones.” In recommending that class, the Register found that many such phones are protected by access controls, that proponents' intended use—to render certain lawfully acquired applications interoperable with the handset's software—was fair, and that the access controls adversely affected that use. The Register also found that the statutory factors prescribed by 17 U.S.C. 1201(a)(1)(C) weighed in favor of granting the exemption.
In this proceeding, proponents urged an expanded version of the class designated in 2010, citing dramatic growth in the mobile phone market, along with continued widespread use of technological measures to prevent users from installing unauthorized applications on such phones. They proposed that the exemption be extended to include “tablets,” such as Apple's iPad, which, in EFF's words, have “enjoyed similar radical popularity over the past two years.”
EFF asserted that courts have long found copying and modification to enable device interoperability noninfringing under the doctrine of fair use. It further noted that the Register concluded in the 2010 rulemaking that jailbreaking was a fair use, and maintained that nothing in the factual or legal record since the last proceeding suggested that a change in this position was warranted.
EFF also asserted that the last three years have seen dramatic growth in the adoption of smartphones and tablets as consumers increasingly shift from traditional personal computers to mobile devices. EFF argued that the technological restrictions on phones and tablets have an adverse effect on
Joint Creators asserted that the proposed exemption is unnecessary and beyond the scope of the rulemaking because Section 1201(f) of the Copyright Act already defines “the contours of acceptable circumvention related to interoperability.” Specifically, Joint Creators argued that the proponents have not established that Section 1201(f) does not already permit the conduct in which proponents seek to engage and, “if it were established that Congress chose not to include the conduct at issue within [Section] 1201(f),” then proponents have failed to establish that the Librarian has the authority to upset that decision through this proceeding. The Register concluded that it was unclear, at best, whether Section 1201(f) applies in this circumstance, so she proceeded to analyze the merits of the proposed exemption.
Joint Creators did not directly challenge EFF's fair use analysis but instead took issue with the Register's previous fair use finding. In reviewing the fair use question, the Register noted that the factual record with respect to fair use was substantially the same as it was in 2010 and that there had been no significant developments in pertinent case law that would cause the Register to reevaluate the analytical framework applied in 2010. The purpose and character of the use is noncommercial and personal so that individual owners of smartphones may use them for the purpose for which they were intended. The nature of the copyrighted work—firmware—remains the same as it was in 2010, and it remains true that one engaged in jailbreaking need only modify the functional aspects of the firmware, which may or may not be subject to copyright protection. Those engaged in jailbreaking use only that which is necessary to engage in the activity, which is often
The Register found that proponents had established that the prohibition is adversely affecting, and is likely to continue to have an adverse impact on, certain uses of mobile devices in which the firmware, a copyrightable work, is protected by technological measures. The evidence in the record indicated that smartphones have been widely adopted and that consumer acceptance of such devices will continue to increase in the future. Nonetheless, the vast majority of mobile phones sold today contain technological measures that restrict users' ability to install unauthorized applications.
The Register determined that the statutory factors weighed in favor of a renewed exemption for smartphones, as nothing in the record suggested that the market for mobile phones had been negatively impacted by the designation of such a class and, in fact, such a class might make smartphones more attractive to consumers. While Joint Creators raised concerns about pirated applications that are able to run on jailbroken devices, the record did not demonstrate any significant relationship between jailbreaking and piracy.
On the other hand, the Register concluded that the record did not support an extension of the exemption to “tablet” devices. The Register found significant merit to the opposition's concerns that this aspect of the proposed class was broad and ill-defined, as a wide range of devices might be considered “tablets,” notwithstanding the significant distinctions among them in terms of the way they operate, their intended purposes, and the nature of the applications they can accommodate. For example, an ebook reading device might be considered a “tablet,” as might a handheld video game device or a laptop computer.
NTIA supported the designation of a class for both smartphones and tablets. Noting the broad support for such an exemption and the numerous noninfringing uses enabled by jailbreaking, NTIA asserted that “the mobile application market has thrived, and continues to do so, despite—and possibly in part because of—the current exemption.” NTIA was persuaded that the proposed class should apply to tablets as well as mobile phones, believing that category to have been sufficiently defined by EFF. As noted, however, the Register determined that the record lacked a sufficient basis to develop an appropriate definition for the “tablet” category of devices, a necessary predicate to extending the exemption beyond smartphones. In future rulemakings, as mobile computing technology evolves, such a definition might be more attainable, but on this record, the Register was unable to recommend the proposed expansion to tablets.
Computer programs, in the form of firmware or software, that enable a wireless telephone handset originally acquired from the operator of a wireless telecommunications network or retailer no later than ninety days after the effective date of this exemption to connect to a different wireless telecommunications network, if the operator of the wireless communications network to which the handset is locked has failed to unlock it within a reasonable period of time following a request by the owner of the wireless telephone handset, and when circumvention is initiated by the owner, an individual consumer, who is also the owner of the copy of the computer program in such wireless telephone handset, solely in order to connect to a different wireless telecommunications network, and such access to the network is authorized by the operator of the network.
This exemption is a modification of the proponents' proposal. It permits the circumvention of computer programs on mobile phones to enable such mobile phones to connect to alternative networks (often referred to as “unlocking”), but with limited applicability. In order to align the exemption to current market realities, it applies only to mobile phones acquired prior to the effective date of the exemption or within 90 days thereafter.
Proponents Consumers Union, Youghiogheny Communications, LLC, MetroPCS Communications, Inc., and the Competitive Carriers Association, supported by other commenting parties, submitted similar proposals seeking an exemption to permit circumvention to enable wireless devices to interoperate with networks other than the network on which the device was originally used. In 2006, and again in 2010, the Register recommended, and the Librarian designated, a class of works that permitted the circumvention of technological protection measures applied to firmware in wireless handsets for the purpose of switching to an alternative wireless network.
Proponents advanced several theories as to why “unlocking” is a noninfringing use, including that it does
Proponents noted that “huge numbers” of people have already unlocked their phones under the 2006 and 2010 exemptions and claimed that ending the exemption will lead to higher device prices for consumers, increased electronic waste, higher costs associated with switching service providers, and widespread mobile customer “lock-in.” Although proponents acknowledged that unlocked mobile devices are widely available for purchase, they contended that an exemption is still warranted because some devices sold by carriers are permanently locked and because unlocking policies contain restrictions and may not apply to all of a carrier's devices. Proponents characterized software locks as impediments to a competitive marketplace. They claimed that absent the exemption, consumers would be forced to continue to do business with the carrier that sold the device to the consumer in the first instance, or to discard the device.
CTIA—The Wireless Association (“CTIA”), a trade association comprised of various commercial wireless service providers, objected to the proposals as drafted. Overall, CTIA maintained that an exemption for unlocking is not necessary because “the largest nationwide carriers * * * have liberal, publicly available unlocking policies,” and because unlocked phones are “freely available from third party providers—many at low prices.” Nonetheless, CTIA indicated that its members did not object to a “narrowly tailored and carefully limited exception” to permit individual customers of wireless carriers to unlock phones for the purpose of switching networks.
CTIA explained that the practice of locking cell phones is an essential part of the wireless industry's predominant business model, which involves subsidizing the cost of wireless handsets in exchange for a commitment from the customer that the phone will be used on that carrier's service so that the subsidy can eventually be recouped by the carrier. CTIA alleged that the industry has been plagued by “large scale phone trafficking operations” that buy large quantities of pre-paid phones, unlock them, and resell them in foreign markets where carriers do not subsidize handsets. On the question of noninfringing use, CTIA asserted that the Section 117 privileges do not apply because owners of wireless devices do not necessarily own the software on those devices.
The Register confronted similar arguments about Section 117 in the 2010 proceeding. There, the parties relied primarily upon
Since the Register rendered her 2010 Recommendation, the case law has evolved. In 2010, the Ninth Circuit issued its decision in
Proponents made only a cursory attempt to respond to
The Register further concluded that the record before her supported a finding that, with respect to new wireless handsets, there are ample alternatives to circumvention. That is, the marketplace has evolved such that there is now a wide array of unlocked phone options available to consumers. While it is true that not
However, with respect to “legacy” phones—
Despite the increasing availability of unlocked phones in the marketplace and the trend toward wireless carriers' unlocking phones in certain circumstances, NTIA favored a broader exemption. It asserted that the unlocking policies of most wireless carriers are not reasonable alternatives to circumvention because many such policies apply only to current customers or subscribers, because some carriers will refuse to unlock devices, and because unlocking policies are often contingent upon the carrier's ability to obtain the necessary code. Further, “NTIA does not support the notion that it is an appropriate alternative for a current device owner to be required to purchase another device to switch carriers.”
The Register concluded after a review of the statutory factors that an exemption to the prohibition on circumvention of mobile phone
• Motion pictures, as defined in 17 U.S.C. 101, on DVDs that are lawfully made and acquired and that are protected by the Content Scrambling System, where the person engaging in circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that circumvention is necessary because reasonably available alternatives, such as noncircumventing methods or using screen capture software as provided for in alternative exemptions, are not able to produce the level of high-quality content required to achieve the desired criticism or comment on such motion pictures, and where circumvention is undertaken solely in order to make use of short portions of the motion pictures for the purpose of criticism or comment in the following instances: (i) In noncommercial videos; (ii) in documentary films; (iii) in nonfiction multimedia ebooks offering film analysis; and (iv) for educational purposes in film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts, by college and university faculty, college and university students, and kindergarten through twelfth grade educators. For purposes of this exemption, “noncommercial videos” includes videos created pursuant to a paid commission, provided that the commissioning entity's use is noncommercial.
• Motion pictures, as defined in 17 U.S.C. 101, that are lawfully made and acquired via online distribution services and that are protected by various technological protection measures, where the person engaging in circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that circumvention is necessary because reasonably available alternatives, such as noncircumventing methods or using screen capture software as provided for in alternative exemptions, are not able to produce the level of high-quality content required to achieve the desired criticism or comment on such motion pictures, and where circumvention is undertaken solely in order to make use of short portions of the motion pictures for the purpose of criticism or comment in the following instances: (i) In noncommercial videos; (ii) in documentary films; (iii) in nonfiction multimedia ebooks offering film analysis; and (iv) for educational purposes in film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts, by college and university faculty, college and university students, and kindergarten through twelfth grade educators. For purposes of this exemption, “noncommercial videos” includes videos created pursuant to a paid commission, provided that the commissioning entity's use is noncommercial.
• Motion pictures, as defined in 17 U.S.C. 101, on DVDs that are lawfully made and acquired and that are protected by the Content Scrambling System, where the circumvention, if any, is undertaken using screen capture technology that is reasonably represented and offered to the public as enabling the reproduction of motion picture content after such content has been lawfully decrypted, when such representations have been reasonably relied upon by the user of such technology, when the person engaging in the circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that the circumvention is necessary to achieve the desired criticism or comment, and where the circumvention is undertaken solely in order to make use of short portions of the motion pictures for the purpose of criticism or comment in the following instances: (i) in noncommercial videos; (ii) in documentary films; (iii) in nonfiction multimedia ebooks offering film analysis; and (iv) for educational purposes by college and university faculty, college and university students, and kindergarten through twelfth grade educators. For purposes of this exemption, “noncommercial videos” includes videos created pursuant to a paid commission, provided that the commissioning entity's use is noncommercial.
• Motion pictures, as defined in 17 U.S.C. 101, that are lawfully made and acquired via online distribution services and that are protected by various technological protection measures, where the circumvention, if any, is undertaken using screen capture technology that is reasonably represented and offered to the public as enabling the reproduction of motion picture content after such content has been lawfully decrypted, when such representations have been reasonably relied upon by the user of such technology, when the person engaging in the circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that the circumvention is necessary to achieve the desired criticism or comment, and where the circumvention is undertaken solely in order to make use of short portions of the motion pictures for the purpose of criticism or comment in the following instances: (i) In noncommercial videos; (ii) in documentary films; (iii) in nonfiction multimedia ebooks offering film analysis; and (iv) for educational purposes by college and university faculty, college and university students, and kindergarten through twelfth grade educators. For purposes of this exemption, “noncommercial videos” includes videos created pursuant to a paid commission, provided that the commissioning entity's use is noncommercial.
These related exemptions are modifications of the proponents' proposals. They permit the circumvention of motion pictures contained on DVDs and delivered through online services to permit the use of short portions for purposes of criticism and comment in noncommercial videos, documentary films, nonfiction multimedia ebooks offering film analysis, and for certain educational uses by college and university faculty and students and kindergarten through twelfth grade educators. They also permit the use of screen capture technology to the extent an exemption is necessary under the law. However, the exemptions do not apply to the use of motion picture excerpts in fictional films, as the Register was unable to conclude on the record presented that such use is noninfringing.
Proponents submitted eight proposals requesting the designation of classes to allow the circumvention of lawfully made and acquired motion pictures and audiovisual works protected by various access controls where the user seeks to engage in a noninfringing use. The proposals were comprised of three subgroups:
First, proponents of exemptions for noncommercial videos sought to use clips from motion pictures to create new noncommercial videos, such as remix or mash-up videos, for criticism, comment, and other noninfringing uses. Proponents for these uses included EFF and University of Michigan Library (“UML”), supported by the Organization for Transformative Works. UML's proposal requested an exemption very similar to the Register's 2010 recommended exemption for motion pictures contained on DVDs protected by Content Scrambling System (“CSS”), which encompassed educational uses and documentary filmmaking, in addition to noncommercial videos. However, UML indicated that the exemption should apply not only to motion pictures but to audiovisual works generally. EFF sought to broaden the 2010 exemption by expanding it to include audiovisual works and to include circumvention of motion pictures acquired via online distribution services. It also sought to enlarge the exemption to include not just criticism or comment but
Second, proponents of exemptions for commercial uses by documentary filmmakers, fictional filmmakers, and multimedia ebook authors sought an
Finally, proponents of exemptions for educational uses sought to use clips from motion pictures for criticism, comment, or other educational purposes by college and university professors and faculty, college and university students, and kindergarten through twelfth grade educators. Proponents for these uses included UML; Library Copyright Alliance (“LCA”); Peter Decherney, Katherine Sender, Michael X. Delli Carpini, International Communication Association, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, and American Association of University Professors (“Joint Educators”); and Media Education Lab at the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island (“MEL”). The proposals by UML and LCA requested an exemption similar to the 2010 exemption recommended by the Register for circumvention of CSS-protected DVDs, except that UML sought to broaden it to apply to audiovisual works, as well as to students across all disciplines of study. Joint Educators' proposed exemption sought to enable college and university students, as well as faculty, to use short portions of video, as well as to circumvent AACS-protected Blu-ray discs and digitally transmitted works. Finally, MEL requested an exemption for the circumvention of audiovisual works used for educational purposes by kindergarten through twelfth grade educators.
Because each of the proposals involved the use of clips from motion pictures or audiovisual works, the eight possible exemptions were addressed as a group in the Register's Recommendation. The proposals for exemptions to allow the circumvention of lawfully obtained motion pictures protected by access controls for various commercial, noncommercial, and “primarily noncommercial” purposes shared a unifying feature in that in each case, proponents were seeking an exemption to allow circumvention for the purpose of reproducing short clips to facilitate alleged noninfringing uses. Creators of noncommercial videos sought to use portions of motion pictures to create noninfringing works involving criticism or comment that they asserted were transformative. Documentary filmmakers and multimedia ebook authors sought to reproduce portions of motion pictures in new works offering criticism or commentary. Fictional filmmakers wished to incorporate motion pictures into new films to convey certain messages. Film and media studies professors sought to assemble motion picture excerpts to demonstrate concepts, qualities, and techniques. Other educators sought to reproduce clips of motion pictures to illustrate points for classroom discussion.
Joint Creators and DVD Copy Control Association (“DVD CCA”) opposed the proposals pertaining to noncommercial videos and, more generally, the use of motion pictures contained on CSS-protected DVDs. Joint Creators also opposed the use of motion pictures acquired via online distribution services. Joint Creators questioned whether proponents had met the required statutory burden for an exemption. They urged the Register precisely to analyze the alleged noninfringing uses to determine whether they were, in fact, noninfringing. In addition, they argued that the proposed exemption for circumvention of AACS-protected Blu-ray discs should not be approved.
DVD CCA maintained that none of the examples offered in support of the proposed exemptions for documentary filmmakers, fictional filmmakers, or multimedia ebook authors sufficiently established that CSS is preventing the proposed uses. DVD CCA asserted that there are several alternatives to circumvention, including clip licensing, screen capture software, and video recording via smartphone that would enable proponents affordably and effectively to copy short portions of motion pictures without the requested exemption.
As for educational uses, Joint Creators and DVD CCA did not oppose the granting of an exemption covering circumvention of CSS for a variety of college and university uses involving copying of short portions of motion pictures, but asserted that the exemption should be limited to conduct that is clearly noninfringing and requires high-quality content.
Advanced Access Content System License Administrator (“AACS LA”) generally opposed the requested exemptions as they would apply to AACS-protected Blu-ray discs. It asserted that proponents have failed to make the case that they face substantial adverse effects with respect to content available only on Blu-ray discs.
In reviewing the proposed classes, the Register noted that certain of the proposed exemptions referred to “audiovisual works” as opposed to “motion pictures.” The Register observed that Section 101 defines “motion pictures” as “audiovisual works consisting of a series of related images which, when shown in succession, impart an impression of motion, together with accompanying sounds, if any.” Section 101 defines “audiovisual works” somewhat more broadly, as “works that consist of a series of related images which are intrinsically intended to be shown by the use of machines or devices such as projectors, viewers, or electronic equipment, together with accompanying sounds, if any, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as films or tapes, in which the works are embodied.” Under the Copyright Act, “motion pictures” are thus a subset (albeit a very large one) of “audiovisual works.” The record for the proposed classes was directed to uses of motion pictures such as movies, television shows, commercials, news, DVD extras, etc., and did not focus on uses of audiovisual works that would fall outside of the Copyright Act's definition of “motion pictures.” Based on the record, the Register found no basis for considering exemptions beyond motion
The Register determined that proponents of exemptions for noncommercial videos, commercial uses by documentary filmmakers and multimedia ebook authors, and uses in educational contexts had established that a significant number of the proposed uses were for purposes of criticism and commentary. She noted that such uses fall within the favored purposes referenced in the preamble of Section 107 and, especially in light of the brevity of the excerpts used, are likely to be fair uses. More specifically, the Register determined that the proposed uses tended to be transformative in nature, employing short clips for purposes of criticism, comment, teaching, and/or scholarship, rather than for the works' originally intended purpose. Despite the commercial aspect of uses by documentary filmmakers and multimedia ebook authors, the Register noted that when a short excerpt of a motion picture is used for purposes of criticism and comment, even in a commercial context, it may well be a productive use that serves the essential function of fair use as a free speech safeguard. While the Register did not conclude that a court would find each and every one of proponents' examples to be transformative, she did find that the record amply supported the conclusion that a substantial number of the proffered examples likely would be considered transformative fair uses.
The Register also concluded, however, that the same fair use analysis did not apply to fictional filmmakers, at least on the record presented. She noted that fictional films differ from the other categories of use because their purpose is typically for entertainment, rather than for criticism or comment. As the Register explained in her Recommendation, under appropriate circumstances, a use by a fictional filmmaker might well be a fair use. But fictional film proponents merely described their desired uses and did not present concrete examples—such as existing films that made use of preexisting material in a clearly transformative manner—that permitted the Register to make a finding of fair use in this context. The record did not allow a satisfying determination as to the nature of the fictional filmmakers' proposed uses, the amount of the underlying works fictional filmmakers generally sought to use, or whether or how such uses might affect the market for the original works.
In addition, the Register observed that, to the extent discernible from proponents' descriptions, a number of the examples cited did not appear readily to lend themselves to a conclusion that the described use would likely be considered fair. More specifically, the use of an earlier work to flesh out characters or motivations in a new work, or to develop a storyline, as suggested by some of proponents' descriptive examples, does not inherently serve the purpose of criticism or comment on the existing work. The Register therefore concluded, on the record before her, that fictional filmmakers had failed to establish that the uses in which they sought to engage were likely to be noninfringing.
Having determined otherwise with respect to the other proposed categories of use involving criticism and comment, however, the Register proceeded to consider whether there were adequate alternatives to circumvention to accommodate these noninfringing uses.
Opponents pointed to clip licensing, smartphone video recording, and screen capture software as alternatives to achieve the desired uses. The Register found that clip licensing was not a reasonable alternative, as the scope of content offered through reasonably available licensing sources was far from complete. Moreover, requiring a creator who is making fair use of a work to obtain a license is in tension with the Supreme Court's holding in
Nor did smartphone recording appear to be an adequate option, as the evidence indicated that smartphone recordings yielded inferior video and audio quality, and failed to capture the complete image as it was meant to appear on the screen.
In the 2010 proceeding, the Register determined that screen capture technology offered a cost-effective alternative technique to allow reproduction of motion pictures for certain uses. Unlike the last proceeding, where the Register raised screen capture technology as a possible alternative, in the current proceeding it was opponents who pointed to screen capture as a reasonable solution. However, based on the video evidence and commentary from proponents and opponents concerning screen capture technology, the Register determined that the screen capture images, while improved in quality since the last rulemaking, were still of lower quality than those available by circumvention of access controls on motion pictures; they were somewhat diminished in clarity and depth, and could exhibit pixilation.
Concerning screen capture, documentary filmmakers suggested that the lower-quality images generated by this technology were not suitable for the dissemination of their films. The Register found a similar argument persuasive in the previous rulemaking based on certain distribution standards generally requiring that films adhere to specific quality standards that cannot be met by screen capture. Unlike in the last proceeding, however, the Register was not convinced on the present record that the distribution requirements would give rise to significant adverse effects. In this proceeding, the parties explained the standards in greater detail, including the fact that certain accommodations are made by distributors with respect to pre-existing materials.
Nonetheless, the record did support the conclusion that, in some cases, for other reasons, the inability to circumvent to make use of higher-quality material available on DVDs and in protected online formats is likely to impose significant adverse effects on documentary filmmakers, noncommercial video makers, multimedia ebook authors, and certain educational users. Creators of noncommercial videos provided the most extensive record to support the need for higher-quality source material. Based on the video evidence presented, the Register concluded that diminished quality likely would impair the criticism and comment contained in noncommercial videos. For example, the Register was able to perceive that certain noncommercial videos would suffer significantly because of blurring and the loss of detail in characters' expression and sense of depth.
Although the record was not as robust in the case of documentary filmmakers and multimedia ebook authors, it was sufficient to support a similar finding that for certain uses—
As an additional concern relating to screen capture technology, proponents maintained that even if the Register acknowledged now, as she did in 2010, that certain types of video capture software are noncircumventing, there is still no assurance that all copyright owners share this view. Proponents observed, for example, that litigation had been instituted over the use of similar methods of acquiring content protected by access controls. In light of the unsettled legal landscape, the Register determi