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Copyright

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) 1998

Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 was entacted to address intellectual property in the digital environment. 

Under the DMCA, 

  • it is illegal to circumvent or decrypt technological protection measures (TPMs) that protect digital intellectual property, even if your use is fair use. 
  • it is illegal to manufacture and to traffic any technology or services that are designed to circumvent a TPM. 
  • it prohibits the removal of copyright management information contained on a copyrighted work.

Sections 1201 of the Copyright Law (Title 17) prohibits circumvention of TPMs employed by or on behalf of copyright owners to control access to their work. This section is reviewed every three years by the Librarian of Congress. The next update will be in done in 2021. 

So what does that mean to me?

As an instructor, 

  • you cannot copy, convert, or transcode videos that are locked by TPMs for instructional purposes. 
  • you can circumvent a short portion only for the purposes of critictism and commentary. 

Screen Capture Software

Using screen capture software

The DMCA exemptions now fully address the use of screen capture software. It is not always clear whether the screen capture process uses circumvention techniques or whether it captures video after the decryption process which is the legal approach. In the event the capturing is circumventing, DMCA exemptions allow short portions of the works to be copied for comment and criticism for educational purposes. Commonly used screen capture software are Camtisia, Jing, SnagIT, Captivate, or Screencast-o-matic. All have their limitations. 

When screen capture software isn't good enough

The DMCA permits the circumvention of TPMs when screen capture software does not provide the level of quality needed for comment or criticism. This exemption applies to film studies classes or any class doing film and media analysis. University faculty and students may take advantage of this exemption. 

DMCA Exemption Table

  Motion pictures on DVD (lawfully made and acquired) that are protected by CSS (content scrambling system). Note: Exemption does not apply to Blu-ray Motion pictures, (lawfully made and acquired) via online distribution services, protected by various TPMs Motion pictures on DVD, lawfully made and acquired) that are protected by CSS (content scrambling system) Motion pictures, lawfully made and acquired via online distribution services, protected by various TPMs
Amount that may copied Short Portions Only Short Portions Only Short Portions only  Short Portions Only
Lawful purposes in these instances:

Criticism or comment in the following instances:

-in noncommercial videos; 

-in documentary films;

-in nonfiction multimedia ebooks offering film analysis;

-for educational purposes in film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts by university faculty and students 

Criticism or comment in the following instances:

-in noncommerical videos; 

-in documentary films;

-in nonfiction multimedia ebooks offering film analysis;

-for educational purposes in film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts by university faculty and students.

Criticism or comment in the following instances: 

-in noncommercial videos; 

-in documentary films; 

-in nonfiction multimedia ebooks offering film analysis; 

-for educational purposes by college and university faculty and students.  

Criticism or comment in the following instances: 

-in noncommercial videos; 

-in documentary films; 

-in nonfiction multimedia ebooks offering film analysis; 

-for educational purposes by university faculty and students.

Permitted Action: Circumvention permitted Circumvention permitted Screen capture software may or may not use circumvention techniques; however a circumvention is permitted under these limited circumstances.  Screen capture software may or may not use circumvention techniques, however a circumvention is permitted under these limited circumstances. 
When circumvention or screen capture apply: ...where the person engaging in circumvention believes...that circumvention is necessary because reasonably available alternatives, such as noncircumventing methods or using screen capture software... are not able to produce the level of high quality content required to achieve the desired criticism or comment...  ...where the person engaging in circumvention believes...that circumvention is necessary because reasonably available alternatives, such as noncircumventing methods or using screen capture software...are not able to produce the level of high quality content required to achieve the desired criticism or comment...  ...where the circumvention, if any, is undertaken using screen capture technology that is reasonable represented and offered to the public as enabling the reproduction of motion picture content after such content has been lawfully decrypted, ...where the person engaging in the circumvention is necessary to achieve the desired criticism or comment... ...where the circumvention, if any, is undertaken using screen capture technology that is reasonable represented and offered to the public as enabling the reproduction of motion picture content after such content has been lawfully decrypted, ...where the person engaging in the circumvention is necessary to achieve the desired criticism or comment...

2018 DMCA Exemptions

Excerpts of motion pictures (including television programs and videos) for criticism and comment: 

  • for educational uses, 
    • by university faculty or students 
    • by faculty of massive open online courses 
    • by educators and participants in digital and literacy programs offered by libraries, museums, and other nonprofits. 
  • for nonfiction multimedia e-books. 
  • for uses in documentary files and other films where the use is in parody or for a biographical or historically significant nature. 
  • for uses in noncommercial videos.
  • motion pictures (including television programs and videos), for the provision of captioning and/or audio description by disability services offices or similar units at educational institutions for students with disabilities.
  • literacy works distributed electronically (ex. electronic books), for use with assistive technologies for persons who are blind, visually impaired or have print disabilities.
  • literacy works consisting of compilations of data generated by implanted medical devices and corresponding personal monitoring systems. 
  • computer programs that operate the following types of devices, that allow connection of a new or used device to an alternate wireless network ('unlocking" ). (ex. cell phones, tablets, mobile hotspots, and wearable devices)
  • computer programs that operate the following types of devices, that allow the device to interlope with or to remove software applications ("jail breaking"). (ex. smartphones, tablets and other all-purpose mobile computing devices, smart TVs , voice assistant devices) 
  • computer programs that control motorized land vehicles, including farm equipment, for purposes of diagnosis, repair, of the device or system. 
  • computer programs for purposes of good faith security research.
  • computer programs other than video games, for the preservation of computer programs and computer program dependent materials by libraries, archives, and museums. 
  • video games from which outside server support has been discontinued, to allow individual play by gamers and preservation of games by libraries, archives, and museums (as well as necessary jail breaking of console computer code for preservation uses only), and preservation of discontinued video games that never required server support. 
  • computer programs that operate 3D printers, to allow use of alternative feedback. 

For more information on the 2018 exemptions, visit the US Copyright Office's website.