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DMCA Exemption

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it unlawful to rip from DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and many other encrypted technologies to prevent unauthorized access to copyrighted works. The law blocks filmmakers' ability to make fair use of invaluable footage. While fair use allows us to use copyrighted footage, the DMCA restricts our access to such material.

Since 2010,  the University of Irvine (UCI) Intellectual Property, Arts, and Technology Clinic and Donaldson + Callif have represented a coalition of major independent filmmaking organizations in the effort, led by the International Documentary Association, Film Independent, and Kartemquin Films, in protecting documentary filmmakers' exemption from the DMCA. 

Want to know more? Read our FAQs.

Sun, 10/28/2018 - 00:59
On October 26, 2018, the US Copyright Office modified this exemption for the first time ever, expanding current clearance for documentary films to include some types of fictional films. Now, both nonfiction and fictional filmmakers may use ripped images “where the clip is used for parody or its biographical or historically significant nature.” As a result, filmmakers working on projects like biopics, historical fiction, and parodies like Lonely Island can now access encrypted content without fear of liability.
Thu, 10/05/2017 - 09:42
By Shaia Araghi and Lauren Wertheimer For nearly a decade, a national coalition led by Film Independent and the International Documentary Association has worked to protect filmmakers' fair use rights by seeking exemptions to the copyright laws that allow filmmakers to "rip" from DVDs, Blu-ray and
Thu, 03/16/2017 - 14:10
The International Documentary Association expresses profound dismay at the recent proposed federal budget eliminating funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The budget of these three agencies represent a tiny portion of the
Fri, 06/03/2016 - 12:49
For the last eight years, the IDA has been a leader in efforts to obtain exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) that preserve documentary filmmakers’ abilities to make fair use in the digital age. Now the Copyright Office is looking at ways to reform the exemption process, and
Wed, 12/17/2014 - 15:08
On Monday, eleven federal judges took the bench in Pasadena, CA to hear a copyright case that could have deep and lasting implications for documentary filmmakers everywhere. At issue is whether anyone who appears in a film production and makes even the slightest creative contribution could have a
Tue, 11/25/2014 - 11:50
The DMCA’s ban on breaking encryption is hurting our ability to make fair use. But you are helping us renew our exemption! The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal to rip from DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and many other encrypted technologies. The law is blocking our ability to make fair
Fri, 10/26/2012 - 12:42
Back in November 2011 , the IDA and Kartemquin Films sent out a request for your help as we were preparing to submit comments to the Library of Congress regarding the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). We were requesting that an exemption be renewed to allow all filmmakers to obtain the clips
Wed, 12/14/2011 - 12:01
Please review our official comments submitted to the US Copyright Office along with Kartemquin Educational Films Inc and others.
Thu, 11/10/2011 - 13:33
Submit your stories to help preserve your fair use rights.
Sun, 07/25/2010 - 21:00
Access Granted to DVD Content, Restoring Fair Use Rights