We have been active in the DMCA-reform movement, participating in the public comment process a few months ago (Ernest Miller of LawMeme did the heavy lifting – Ernie rules), insisting that consumers should be able to make backup copies of their own DVDs, and that news and reviews entities (like Blogcritics) should be able to copy excerpts of DVDs for review purposes.
As a result of strong public participation on the comments process, the Library of Congress Copyright Office is going to hold public hearings on the DMCA:
- The Library of Congress’ Copyright Office said on Thursday that it will hold a series of public hearings over the next two months in Washington, D.C. and California to decide what changes, if any, should be made to the section of the DMCA that restricts bypassing copy-protection schemes.
Anyone with strong feelings about the DMCA, one way or another, may submit a request by Apr. 1 to testify during the public forums, the Copyright Office said in its announcement. The hearing dates in the U.S. capital will be Apr. 11, Apr. 15 and May 2. The dates and locations in California have not been set yet.
The Copyright Office’s announcement comes as criticism of the DMCA’s “anticircumvention” restrictions has grown. With a few exemptions, section 1201 generally bars people from circumventing a “technological measure that effectively control access to a work,” as well as creating or distributing tools to do the same. Copyright holders, led by groups such as the Business Software Alliance and the music and motion picture trade associations, have lobbied to keep that part of the DMCA intact. Critics, however, say it stifles legitimate research.
“I’m glad they’re holding hearings,” said Mike Godwin, technology counsel for the Public Knowledge advocacy group. “This will present a chance for people to show up and make their case and build a good record.”
The hearings extend proceedings that started in November, when the Copyright Office began accepting comments from the public. The last round of comments was due on Feb. 20. During that round, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties group, asked that it be legal to bypass DVD region coding, skip ads on DVDs, and unlock copy-protected CDs. [CNET]