December 14, 2011

Official Comments on the DMCA Exemption Submitted to US Copyright Office

Back in early November, we sent out a request for your help as we were preparing to submit comments requesting that the exemption be renewed to allow all filmmakers to obtain the clips they need to tell their stories under the protection of the law.

With your help and support, we submitted these comments for consideration of appending the DMCA’s current restrictions for accessing footage on Thursday, December 1. We're making the full report available for you to browse and share with fellow filmmakers, complete with moving statements from important influencers in the film world like IDA Board President Eddie Schmidt.

Documentary film is critical to our culture and our democracy. When the DVD became the default media format of our time, the ability of filmmakers to make fair use of copyrighted video clips became compromised. Because “ripping” a DVD requires bypassing the DVD’s “technological protection measure”, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act made the act of “ripping” a DVD illegal even in situations where the doctrine of fair use permits filmmakers to use the material on the DVDs without permission.

Arguing for a reconsideration of the current DMCA ruling for “ripping” DVDs, Eddie Schmidt said the following:

“The current DMCA exemption is hugely necessary for filmmakers, but it is already outdated. In order to keep pace with a rapidly changing industry, the exemption must cover the media outlets that are actually available in order to keep fair use truly fair. So we ask that the exemption extend to Blu-Ray discs as well as to means of digital transmission (on-demand cable TV, streaming, download).”

Please take the time to skim the official comments submitted to the United States Copyright Office and share with all your filmmaker friends. We need to remember how important fair use is for not just documentary but for all filmmaking practices. Let’s ensure this DMCA exemption is extended for everyone!