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Background: Today, the Librarian of Congress released his decision regarding lawful circumvention of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies as part of its 1201 triennial review. Public Knowledge had requested an exemption that would allow people to circumvent DVD encryption in order to shift movies they had lawfully purchased on DVD to other devices, such as tablets, that cannot play DVDs natively.
The following quote can be attributed to Michael Weinberg, Vice President of the Institute of Emerging Innovation at Public Knowledge:
"Today's decision flies in the face of reality. The Register and the Librarian were unable to recognize that personal space shifting is protected by fair use. This has implications beyond making personal copies of motion pictures on DVD. Under this view of the law every personal noncommercial space shift is a violation of copyright law. That means, according to the Copyright Office, every person who has ever ripped a CD to put on her iPod is a copyright infringer. Even the RIAA has recognized that such activity is, in their words, "perfectly lawful."
This legal ambiguity has gone on long enough. It is time for Congress to step up and explicitly bring the law into alignment with the way people consume media today. Congress must explicitly incorporate space shifting into the definition of fair use in order to make it crystal clear that copying a work you have purchased onto another device is not copyright infringement.
Public Knowledge has proposed a bill that incorporates non-commercial personal uses into the definition of fair use linked here.
A link to the 1201 triennial review can be found here.
A link to our recent blog post concerning the review can be found here.