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Daily Journal Publishes Christopher Perez on Filmmakers’ Right to Fair Use

Daily Journal published Partner Christopher Perez’s article, “Filmmakers must be free to exercise fair use rights,” addressing the Copyright Office’s pending exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), granting access to certain materials to all filmmakers. Due to an increase in the need for narrative filmmakers to take advantage of an exemption to the DMCA, the Copyright Office should adopt an exemption that would cover all types of filmmakers in their efforts to use materials from DVDs, Blu-rays and digitally transmitted videos.

Opponents to such an exemption argue that it would lead to rampant piracy, but none of them have presented evidence that the previous exemptions have caused any damage. Since independent filmmakers’ success depends so heavily on avoiding piracy, they are among the most fervent anti-piracy advocates.

Opponents also suggest that technical workarounds eliminate the need for an exemption, but experts have shown that alternatives to circumventing access controls to DVDs are not visually acceptable and do not meet the high-definition broadcast requirements of most distributors.

The fact is, both documentary and narrative filmmakers have a substantial need for this exemption, as well as a history of using past exemptions in a responsible way. The decision is expected to come down later this year or early 2016.