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Copyright: DCMA

Guide for using copyrighted materials for students and faculty.

DCMA for Faculty and Students

Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998

(Chapter 12, Sections 1201 and 1202, updates the Copyright Act of 1976.)

The DMCA was written to address intellectual property in the digital environment.

Anticircumvention under the DMCA:

  • It is illegal to circumvent or decrypt technological protection measures (TPMs) that protect digital intellectual property even if your use is a fair use.
  • It is also illegal to manufacture and to traffic any technology or service that is designed to circumvent a TPM.
  • The DMCA prohibits removing the copyright management information contained on a copyrighted work.

How does the DMCA affect my teaching?

Many educators wish to copy, convert, or transcode videos that are locked by TPMs for instructional purposes, but the DMCA restricts this activity. Every three years, however, the Copyright Office re-evaluates the impact of the law and tries to respond by issuing special exemptions. As of 2012, faculty have new exemptions addressing the use of motion pictures on DVD and from online distribution services.

Definition of motion picture: “audiovisual works consisting of a series of related images
which, when shown in succession, impart an impression of motion, together with accompanying sounds, if any.”

General parameters are these:

  • Circumvention is allowable only for the purposes of criticism and commentary.
  • Only “short portions” may be copied.

Use of Screen Capture Software

The DMCA exemptions now address more fully the use of screen capture software. It is not always clear whether the screen capture process uses circumvention techniques or whether it captures video after the decryption process which is the legal approach. In the event that the capturing is circumventing, for the first time the DMCA exemptions allow short portions of the above works to be copied for comment and criticism for educational purposes by university faculty and college students as well as K-12 educators. Commonly used screen capture softwares are Camtasia, Jing, SnagIT, Captivate, or Screencast-o-matic. All have their limitations.

When Screen Capture Software Isn’t Good Enough

The DMCA permits the circumvention of TPMs when screen capture software does not give the level of quality needed for the kind of criticism or comment. This exemption applies to film studies classes or any class doing film and media analysis. University faculty, college students, and K-12 educators may take advantage of this exemption.‚Äč

 

The 2012 Exemptions table lays out the current permitted circumventions, who is entitled to use them and for what purposes. Faculty who teach online will also need to consult the TEACH Act when using video material.

For full details see the Library of Congress Copyright Office website: "2012 Rulemaking on Exemptions" and for more information about the use of media in classes see Media in the Classroom in this guide.

2012 DCMA Exemptions Table

 

2012 Exemptions Apply to:

Motion pictures on DVD, (lawfully made and acquired) that are protected by CSS (content scrambling system)  - applies to the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for the following purposes:

Note: Exemption does not apply to Blu-ray

Motion pictures, (lawfully made and acquired) via online distribution services, protected by various TPMs

Motion pictures on DVD, lawfully made and acquired) that are protected by CSS (content scrambling system).

Note: Exemption does not apply to Blu-ray

Motion pictures, lawfully made and acquired via online distribution services, protected by various TPMs


 

Amount that may be copied:  

Short portions only

Short portions only

Lawful Purpose in these instances:

 criticism or comment in the following instances:
(i) in noncommercial videos; 
(ii) in documentary films; 
(iii) in nonfiction multimedia ebooks offering film analysis
(iv) for educational purposes in film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts, by college and university faculty, college and university students, and kindergarten – 12th grade educators.

 

 criticism or comment in the following instances:
(i) in noncommercial videos; 
(ii) in documentary films; 
(iii) in nonfiction multimedia ebooks offering film analysis;
(iv) for educational purposes by college and university faculty, college and university students, and kindergarten through 12th grade educators.

Permitted action:

circumvention permitted

Screen capture software may or may not use circumvention techniques, however a circumvention is permitted under these limited circumtances.

When circumvention or screen capture apply:

 

…where the person engaging in circumvention believes …that circumvention is necessary because reasonably available alternatives, such as noncircumventing methods or using screen capture software …are not able to produce the level of high-quality content required to achieve the desired criticism or comment …

…where the circumvention, if any, is undertaken using screen capture technology that is reasonably represented and offered to the public as enabling the reproduction of motion picture content after such content has been lawfully decrypted,  ... when the person engaging in the circumvention believes …that the circumvention is necessary to achieve the desired criticism or comment…

 

 

Upcoming Changes

The 2015 DCMA exemptions are forthcoming, so check back soon for updates!

Additional Information

ARL: Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998
A list of resources, testimonials, and analyses surrounding the DMCA compiled by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).

Section 1201 Rulemaking: Fifth Triennial Proceeding to Determine Exemptions to the Prohibition on Circumvention
A PDF document on the summary of the DMCA by the US Copyright Office.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998
Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code. Circular 92.