New DMCA Exemptions: Ripping DVDs for Online Video Now Legal

14 Comments

The U.S. Copyright Office published six new exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) anti-circumvention clause today which should make it far easier for online filmmakers to legally use commercial DVDs. Up until now, filmmakers were actually breaking the law when ripping DVDs to get footage because the act of ripping entails circumventing copy-protection measures.

However, under the new rules, it’s legal to circumvent such measures if you’re a documentary filmmaker or if you intend to use the material for “noncommercial videos.” The EFF, which was actively pushing for these exemptions, is celebrating them as a huge success on its blog, with the organization’s senior staff attorney Corynne McSherry quoted as saying:

“Noncommercial videos are a powerful art form online, and many use short clips from popular movies. Finally the creative people that make those videos won’t have to worry that they are breaking the law in the process, even though their works are clearly fair uses. That benefits everyone — from the artists themselves to those of us who enjoy watching the amazing works they create.”

Critics have long pointed out that the DMCA can be abused to essentially take away rights otherwise granted. In this case, documentary filmmakers and YouTubers alike have always been protected by Fair Use, as long as their videos fulfill certain criteria. However, exercising those rights was in many cases not possible without ripping DVDs, which forced them to break the law.

The new exemptions come only days after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a ruling questioning whether the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions can be used at all to restrict use cases that would otherwise be perfectly legal. In its ruling, the court wrote:

“Merely bypassing a technological protection that restricts a user from viewing or using a work is insufficient to trigger the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision. The DMCA prohibits only forms of access that would violate or impinge on the protections that the Copyright Act otherwise affords copyright owners.”

In other words: Ripping a DVD to make a backup copy is perfectly legal, ripping it to sell copies is not — at least based on this decision. Maybe the DMCA is finally catching up with reality, after all.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user ToastyKen.

Related content on GigaOm Pro: Live Event Coverage: Video Rights Roundtable (subscription required)

14 Comments

Covert Hypnosis

I think they legalized that for personal purposes but not for redistribution..

It would still be unfair for original manufacturers of DVDs..

Well anyway I would still rip dvds instead of buying, lol :)

yara

You just need to convert your dvd and video to mp4 video, then you can add it to your iTunes library, plug in your iPhone to computer and sync your iPhone, that’s all. If you need detailed info, here is a step by step guide at aneesoft for you, it’s easy to understand and works pretty well for me

Big Gerr

Quote: “In other words: Ripping a DVD to make a backup copy is perfectly legal, ripping it to sell copies is not — at least based on this decision.”

How exactly did you arrive at this conclusion? As a matter of fact: Billington announced six cases where copy protection circumvention is not copyright infringement. And only 1 concerns protected DVDs.
“Motion pictures on DVDs that are lawfully made and acquired and that are protected by the Content Scrambling System when circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment, and where the person engaging in circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that circumvention is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the use in the following instances:

Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students;

Documentary filmmaking;

Noncommercial videos”

Nowhere in the 262 page document does it condone making a backup copy of a protected DVD.

Specifically it states: It is important to add, however, that no proponent has demonstrated the need to circumvent in order
to copy a motion picture in its entirety, and no proponent has demonstrated the need to use a quantitatively large percentage of a motion picture. The motion picture industry has a legitimate interest in preventing motion pictures from being copied in their entirety or in a manner that
would adversely affect the market for or value of these works, including reasonable derivative markets.”

And also: As noted above in the discussion of the third fair use factor, the examples presented in the record consist of uses of short portions; the record does not support designation of a class that would extend to anything beyond
use of short portions.

And: While the Register continues to believe that a class of, for example, “motion pictures for non-infringing purposes” or “fair uses of motion pictures” would not constitute an
appropriate class, the relationship between the “class of works” and the particular non-infringing uses that were proven to be, or likely to be, adversely affected may be, in certain cases, the optimal means of balancing the interests identified in the record.

Please actually read the document you are referring to when arriving at a conclusion. The conclusion you have drawn about being able to make a backup copy just makes you look silly.

Gerry

MelM

Don’t we need further rulings from the U.S. Copyright Office to get full rights to rip DVDs? In the new exemption list, I don’t see an exemption for ripping DVDs for personal backup copies or to store and play on a computer. It looks like only short excerpts can be taken for various creative purposes. Like I do with my music CDs, I would love to be able to rip my movie DVDs and get them into iTunes and my iPod (or, especially, the iPad I don’t have yet), but I don’t see that these exemptions will open that door. Here’s the text:

“(1) Motion pictures on DVDs that are lawfully made and acquired and that are protected by the Content Scrambling System when circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment, and where the person engaging in circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that circumvention is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the use in the following instances:

(i) Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students;
(ii) Documentary filmmaking;
(iii) Noncommercial videos.”

Stephanie Summers

This is a good news I think… although I am not planning on jailbreaking my iPhone anytime soon but I think it is cool to install third-party apps onto your iPhone.

Comments are closed.