On Wednesday, the Copyright Office released its recommendations regarding the latest round of exemption requests to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it illegal to bypass a digital lock that protects a copyrighted work, such as a device’s software, even when there is no copyright infringement. Every 3 years, the Copyright Office reviews exemption requests and issues recommendations to the Librarian of Congress on granting certain exceptions to Section 1201.

Ask us anything about this week’s decisions, the review process, or right-to-repair and security research generally.


  • Electronic Frontier Foundation's Cara Gagliano
  • iFixit's Kyle Wiens
  • Public Knowledge's Kathleen Burke
  • Public Knowledge's Meredith Rose
  • Organization for Transformative Works:
    • Copyright Law Professor Rebecca Tushnet
    • Copyright Attorney Heidi Tandy

Proof: Here's my proof!

Comments: 117 • Responses: 2  • Date: 

myth0i107 karma

You usually hear about DMCA in the context of takedown notices and how that process frequently gets abused. This seems like another example of a problematic set of restrictions imposed by the DMCA.

So my question is: why is this law still around? Are there any ways to fix it more comprehensively?

PublicKnowledgeDC117 karma

Hi! You've asked the million dollar question. Fixing the DMCA more comprehensibly is challenging for a number of reasons (1) copyright law is often not a top priority in Congress so getting the kind of traction from the legislature you need to change the DMCA is hard; and (2) major content interests (like the movie industry, record labels, etc.) have significantly more resources to advance their agenda... and the DMCA is good for them right now. This means that the groups who want to see it changed are essentially fighting an uphill battle in the rain with about 1/4 of the manpower of those in favor of keeping the status quo.

This does not mean there aren't things we can/are doing to get this law fixed. First, EFF has challenged 1201 in the Courts. That process takes a while though, so it's not going to solve things immediately. Second, by engaging more communities on this issue and building a movement of engaged citizens we can slowly start to catch Congress' attention. But this too takes time. The good news is that there are passionate people working on it, we just need more voices to help make this a priority.

myth0i12 karma

Thanks for the detailed response!

You mention building a movement... I feel like a lot of people are probably against laws like this and would like to see them change, but it just isn't very visible to them. You don't exactly hear about Copyright Office proceedings on the evening news.

What's a good way that someone can stay engaged with this stuff so we know about it as it happens?

PublicKnowledgeDC15 karma

One way to stay engaged is to follow on social media and join the email lists for groups like Public Knowledge, EFF, and iFixit that work on these issues. Here at PK we currently have Fix the DMCA Action that will help you connect with your legislators.

Also, do you want to share what you'd like to see as far as opportunities to engage? Knowing more about what engages people like you on these issues would help us target our efforts to build movement better around these issues.