- A group representing college media centers is warning the U.S. Copyright Office about a possible conflict between two federal laws, one meant to limit electronic access to copyrighted material and the other designed to broaden access to the same material for online education.
At issue are the Technology Education and Copyright Harmonization Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The first measure is known as the Teach Act and was signed into law in November. It amended copyright law to allow college instructors to use nondramatic works, such as news articles and novels, and portions of dramatic works, such as movies, in online courses without paying fees and without seeking the copyright holder’s permission.
The second law, which took effect in 1998, has a section that makes it illegal to bypass technologies that block access to copyrighted material. In a letter sent last month to the Copyright Office, the Consortium of College and University Media Centers says it wants clarification of that section of the digital-copyright law, known as the anti-circumvention provision.
What worries the media centers is that colleges might not be allowed to bypass copying protections even when they need to do so to use materials from CDs and DVDs for distance education, as permitted by the Teach Act in certain circumstances. The problem arises when digital materials are not also released in non-digital formats that the colleges can fall back on, such as print. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
This is similar to our concern about not being able to make review snippets of DVD-only material (interviews, director commentary, outtakes, behind the scenes, etc) available on our site in conjunction with reviews due to the fact that it is illegal to circumvent copy-protection on DVDs.
This is just bad law, period. It remains outrageous that consumers cannot make backup copies of legally obtained DVDs or copy-protected CDs.