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Last week, a revolving door of digital media users took turns pleading with the Copyright Office for permission to use their content. Teachers and documentarians sought the right to create high-quality video clips for use in their classrooms and documentaries; the visually impaired argued for the right to enable read-aloud functionality on eBooks and enjoy movies with narrated visual descriptions; and Public Knowledge, advocating for the public at large, sought a right to copy lawfully owned DVDs for personal use (e.g. to play a DVD movie on an iPad, or similar device).
How did we arrive at this place, where copyright users must ask permission to use lawfully acquired content in non-infringing ways? The short version of the story goes like this: