Clinic Students Fight for Fair Use for Online Classrooms


Section 1201 of the DMCA, the anti-circumvention provision, prohibits any fair use of copyrighted material if it requires going around a blocking measure. However, there is an exemption proceeding every three years where interested parties can fight for an exception to this rule. Currently, the Copyright Office is in the Seventh Triennial Rulemaking for Exemptions to anti-circumvention.

Glushko-Samuelson IP Clinic Students Melanie Singer and Alissa Logan filed comments and reply comments in the Seventh Triennial Review on behalf of Professor DeCherney and other educators (“Joint Educators”).  Their comments requested an expanded exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA to enhance the quality, accessibility, and affordability of online education for all students – from traditional students seeking degrees to lifelong learners or professionals continuing their education.

Currently, all online courses are not treated the same. The exemption requested by Singer and Logan on behalf of Joint Educators asks for equality for all online courses to encourage innovation in education and availability of a variety of online educational opportunities.  They urge the Librarian of Congress to recognize that all online courses should use classroom materials the same way that offline courses currently do.

Specifically, in the recent reply comments, Logan and Singer set forth how the status quo of inequality harms professors, students, and educational institutions. The reply comments explain how the expanded exemption is needed to stop these harms and instead promote 21st educational opportunities for the 21st century workplace and community.

The next step in Rulemaking Proceeding will be a roundtable discussion at the Copyright Office on April 11, 2018.  Logan and Singer are working with Professor DeCherney who will testify on behalf of Joint Educators and continue to advocate for a better educational future for all types of learners.


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