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Thursday, December 19, 2002
EFF seeks consumer rights - urges copyright office to OK consumer uses of CDs and DVDs


The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today urged the Librarian of Congress (LoC) to recognize the rights of consumers to skip past commercials on DVDs, view DVDs sold only outside the U.S., and play copy-protected CDs on the players of their choice. EFF has long sought exemptions from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA) prohibition on bypassing technological protections used to limit consumer use of DVDs and copy-protected CDs. Public-interest advocacy organization Public Knowledge joined EFF in filing the comments to the LoC.

EFF asked the LoC to create DMCA exemptions for four types of digital media:

1) music on copy-protected CDs

2) movies on DVDs whose region coding restrictions prevent playback on U.S. players

3) movies on DVDs which prevent skipping of commercials

4) movies in the public domain released on DVD

If granted, these exemptions will allow consumers to make full use of the music and movies that they've lawfully obtained.

The entertainment industry encodes DVDs by region sold in an attempt to control release and pricing of movies sold worldwide. Region 1 includes the United States.

"Many great films are available only outside the U.S.," said EFF Staff Attorney Gwen Hinze. "We urge the LoC to allow film buffs to play movies they've legitimately purchased outside the U.S. without fear of breaking the law."

The recent distribution of "copy-protected" CDs has made some CDs unplayable on PCs and DVD players. "The music industry intends to stop copying, but the copy-protected CDs they sell are completely unplayable in many PCs and newer disc players," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "When I buy a CD, I should at least be able to play it on my CD players."

The LoC has called for comments as part of a triennial process of granting exemptions to the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA. Legislators charged the LoC and the U.S. Copyright Office with reviewing the effect of the anti-circumvention provisions on the public's ability to make non-infringing uses of copyrighted works secured by digital protection technologies.

This rulemaking procedure allows the LoC and the Copyright Office to grant limited three-year exemptions to the DMCA's blanket prohibition on bypassing technological protection measures. In that way, users could access particular classes of copyrighted works that are protected by digital protection mechanisms.


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