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Christopher Perez Appeals to U.S. Copyright Office for Exemption to DMCA

Partners Michael Donaldson and Christopher Perez have been working with the Intellectual Property Clinic at the UC Irvine School of Law, led by Jack Lerner, to appeal to the U.S. Copyright Office for an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) that would allow filmmakers to rip from DVD, Blu-ray, or digitally transmitted video for fair use purposes.

This is the third time since 2008 that Mr. Donaldson and Mr. Perez have been involved in securing an exemption from the DMCA for filmmakers relying on fair use.  In 2009, documentary filmmakers were able to secure an exemption that allowed them to rip from DVD for fair use purposes in documentaries.  In 2012, an expanded exemption was granted, this time allowing documentary filmmakers to rip from DVDs and digitally transmitted video sources.

This year, the team is attempting to secure a broader exemption that will allow narrative filmmakers, in addition to documentary filmmakers, to rip DVD, Blu-ray and digitally transmitted video sources for fair use purposes.

The team submitted our initial request for the exemption in the form of a “comment” to the U.S. Copyright Office in December 2014.  Opponents to the exemption request then had an opportunity to respond with their own comments on why an exemption should not be granted.  Last month, the team submitted a reply comment that responded to the opposition’s comments.

On May 20, Mr. Perez, along with several others, will provide testimony on why the exemption is merited.  In particular, he will be providing evidence of narrative filmmakers’ reliance on fair use in the past few years, with the goal of showing that without an exemption there will be a substantial adverse effect on the narrative filmmaking community.

Over the next few weeks, the U.S. Copyright Office will hear testimony from proponents and opponents of each proposed exemption.  We expect the U.S. Copyright Office to arrive at a decision by the end of the year.