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New Copyright Exemptions Put Strain On Filmmakers and Consumers

New Copyright Exemptions Put Strain On Filmmakers and Consumers

This week the U.S. Copyright Office met again to decide on exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), resulting in a renewal of the exemption (first secured in 2010) that grants filmmakers the right to rip content from DVDs and streaming videos for the purpose of “fair use” incorporation in their work.

However, the decision does not allow an exemption for Blu-Ray, leading filmmakers to question the possible limitations in terms of copyrighted material going forward.

“We are pleased with this decision to extend the DMCA exemption for DVD and streaming video, which is necessary for documentary filmmakers to practice their fair use rights,” said Kartemquin’s executive director Gordon Quinn. “But we are disappointed that the copyright office decision doesn’t also cover Blu-Ray. In this rapidly changing technical environment we will have to assess over the next three years how this may impact our ability to effectively make documentaries.”

While the office granted use of ripping DVDs to filmmakers, their exclusion of Blu-Ray is troubling because of the rise in Blu-Ray formatting. Blu-Ray is widely considered to be the format of the future.
Also, the Copyright Office ruled that it is still illegal for consumers to transfer their own movie collections to a digital format, putting a heavy limitation on cinephiles worldwide, especially those trying to watch “Blue Velvet” on their iPad.  However, in a surprising ruling the Copyright Office ruled that jailbreaking an iPhone is fully legal, much to Apple’s chagrin, which is definitely a triumph for consumers seeking a break from corporate restrictions.

The Copyright Office meets every three years to adjust the exemptions, so filmmakers will have to wait before they can present new arguments. [Source: Kartemquin Films]

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