November 24, 2006
The DMCA exemptions were surprising and fortunate, but, as always, disappointing.
Bill Herman at PK: “In 2000 and 2003, they vocally rejected any and all classes of works that were defined, even in part, by reference to specific users or intended uses. Classes of works had to be defined strictly in terms of the qualities of the works themselves. In 2006, however, the intended use and/or user are part of 4 of the 6 granted exemptions.”
Fred von Lohmann: “I am very encouraged by the fact that the Copyright Office is willing to recognize exemptions for archivists, cell phone recyclers and computer security experts. Frankly I’m surprised and pleased they were granted.” (Business Week)
“Unfortunately, just as we predicted, all the proposed exemptions that would benefit consumers were denied (space-shifting, region coding, backing up DVDs). So, while we’re pleased that film professors, archivists, cellphone recyclers, and security researchers were able to successfully navigate the exemption process, it appears that digital consumers still have no choice but to get Congress to amend the DMCA. We look forward to Rep. Rick Boucher reintroducing his DMCA reform bill, H.R. 1201, in the new Congress next year.” (DeepLinks)
Aaron Perzanowski: “I think the harm of the DMCA to consumers and innovators has been established with sufficient force and regularity that we shouldn’t risk creating misconceptions about the scope and availability of exemptions that offer important new safeguards for the sake of reiterating the parade of horribles created by the law.”
The exemptions also don’t make it lawful to provide circumvention tools — so media professors have the right to circumvent CSS, but technically no one is allowed to provide them with the tools to do so. Aaron’s right that this ruling is better than nothing, but (as he also agrees) the exemption process remains woefully inadequate to deal with the DMCA‘s myriad harms.