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New DVD Copyright Exemption for Educational Purposes

July 27, 2010

The U.S. Copyright Office on Monday promulgated a number of new exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, including one allowing university staffers and students to hack DVD content and display it for educational purposes. If a university or student lawfully obtains copy of a DVD, the agency says, they can bypass the encryption so long as "circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for... Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students." The exemption applies when professors or students want to use excerpts of the hacked DVD in documentary films or "non-commercial videos." Tracy Mitrano, director of I.T. policy at Cornell University and a technology law blogger for Inside Higher Ed, called the decision "very big news," and "good news," for higher education, noting that advocates in academe have been lobbying for an expansion of fair use exemptions for some time. One campus that might take heart is the University of California at Los Angeles, which an educational media group threatened to sue last spring for copying and streaming DVD content on course websites. The university had refused to stop the practice, and a UCLA spokesman said the group, the Association for Information and Media Equipment, has not followed through. He said UCLA is reviewing the new rules.


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