Copyright Office Announces Continuation of Exemption to Allow Professors, Teachers and Students to use Short Clips of Movies and TV Shows for University Classes, K-12 and Massively Online Open Classrooms!

Student attorneys Chelsea Kaminski, Hector Contreras, Keyana Pusey, and Jesse Spiegel of the Washington College of Law Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic (IP Clinic) have been working with Professor Peter Decherney, Director of the Cinema & Media Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, Professor Katherine Sender of the Department of Communication and the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Cornell University, Dr. Rebecca Stein, Executive Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Online Learning Initiative to renew the existing exemptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). 

Section 1201 of the DMCA allows for the creation of temporary exemptions to the ban on circumventing technological protection measures on copyrighted works. In 2018, the Copyright Office renewed two exemptions that were filed by the IP Clinic on behalf of Professor Decherney. One exemption allowed for the use of excerpts of motion pictures, including television programs and videos, for educational purposes by faculty in massive open online courses (“MOOCs”). The other exemption allowed for the use of excerpts for educational purposes by college and university or K-12 faculty and students. 

On July 22, 2020, the IP Clinic filed a petition to renew both of these exemptions for another three-year period. In an unprecedented turn of events, the Copyright Office announced on October 15 in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that it would be renewing all existing exemptions, including both the MOOC exemption and the college/university/K-12 exemption. 

In the words of the Copyright Office, “…the Office has reviewed all renewal petitions and related comments and concludes that it has received a sufficient petition to renew each existing exemption and does not find any meaningful opposition to renewal. Accordingly, the Office intends to recommend readoption of all existing exemptions.” 

A summary of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Eighth Triennial Section 1201 Proceeding can be found here:  

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