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Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCA’s Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property Law & Policy April 28, 2011 New York David O. Carson General Counsel United States Copyright Office

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Page 1: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCA’s Anticircumvention

Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)

Fordham Conference onIntellectual Property Law & Policy

April 28, 2011New York

David O. CarsonGeneral Counsel

United States Copyright Office

Page 2: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

§ 1201 Rulemaking

17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)(A) Circumvention of copyright protection systems:

• No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title….

Page 3: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(2)

• [is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of]

• [or has only limited commercially significant purpose or use other than]

• [or is marketed for use in]

circumventing protection afforded by a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.

• No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that 

Page 4: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

17 U.S.C. § 1201(b)(1)

• [is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of]

• [or has only limited commercially significant purpose or use other than]

• [or is marketed for use in]

circumventing protection afforded by a technological measure that effectively protects a right of a copyright owner under this title in a work or a portion thereof.

• No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that 

Page 5: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

§ 1201 Rulemaking

§1201(a)(1)(B)

The prohibition contained in subparagraph (A) shall not apply to persons who are users of a copyrighted work which is in a particular class of works, if such persons are, or are likely to be in the succeeding 3-year period, adversely affected by virtue of such prohibition in their ability to make noninfringing uses of that particular class of works under this title, as determined under subparagraph (C).

Page 6: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

§ 1201 Rulemaking§1201(a)(1)(C):

During the 2-year period described in subparagraph (A), and during each succeeding 3-year period, the Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, who shall consult with the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information of the Department of Commerce and report and comment on his or her views in making such recommendation, shall make the determination in a rulemaking proceeding on the record for purposes of subparagraph (B) of whether persons who are users of a copyrighted work are, or are likely to be in the succeeding 3-year period, adversely affected by the prohibition under subparagraph (A) in their ability to make noninfringing uses under this title of a particular class of copyrighted works.

Page 7: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

§1201 Rulemaking

The Librarian shall publish any class of copyrighted works for which the Librarian has determined, pursuant to the rulemaking conducted under subparagraph (C), that noninfringing uses by persons who are users of a copyrighted work are, or are likely to be, adversely affected, and the prohibition contained in subparagraph (A) shall not apply to such users with respect to such class of works for the ensuing 3-year period.

§1201(a)(1)(D)

Page 8: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

Designated Classes

July 27, 2010

Page 9: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

Motion Picture Excerpts 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

Page 10: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

Motion Picture ExcerptsNoncommercial, transformative users have also sufficiently

demonstrated that certain uses require high quality in order for the purpose of the use to be sufficiently expressed and communicated. …One particular example of “bringing the background to the foreground” was demonstrated in the vid, How Much Is That Geisha In he Window, …. This vid criticizes and comments upon Joss Whedon’s science fiction television series Firefly. The series incorporates Asian culture and art, but the vid demonstrates that almost no Asian characters are featured and that they appear only in the background. The vid concludes with a text screen that states: “There is only one Asian actor with English dialogue in all of Firefly” and in the next screen states, “She plays a whore.”

-- Register’s Recommendation, p. 66

Page 11: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

“Jailbreaking”

Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset.

Page 12: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

17 U.S.C. 117

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:

(1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner, or

(2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archived copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.

Page 13: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

Cellphone Network Switching

Computer programs, in the form of firmware or software, that enable used wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telecommunications network, when circumvention is initiated by the owner of the copy of the computer program solely in order to connect to a wireless telecommunications network and access to the network is authorized by the operator of the network.

Page 14: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

Video Games/Security FlawsVideo games accessible on personal computers and protected by technological protection measures that control access to lawfully obtained works, when circumvention is accomplished solely for the purpose of good faith testing for, investigating, or correcting security flaws or vulnerabilities, if:– (i) The information derived from the security testing is

used primarily to promote the security of the owner or operator of a computer, computer system, or computer network; and

– (ii) The information derived from the security testing is used or maintained in a manner that does not facilitate copyright infringement or a violation of applicable law

[See 17 U.S.C. 1201(j) (security testing of computer, computer system, or computer network)]

Page 15: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

Dongles

Computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access due to malfunction or damage and which are obsolete. A dongle shall be considered obsolete if it is no longer manufactured or if a replacement or repair is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.

Page 16: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

eBooks / Visually Impaired

Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling either of the book’s read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a specialized format.

Page 17: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

Judicial Developments

Page 18: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

Federal Circuit Precedent• Chamberlain v. Skylink, 381 F.3d 1178 (Fed. Cir. 2004)

– Plaintiff must demonstrate a nexus to infringement — i.e., that the defendant’s trafficking in circumventing technology had a “reasonable relationship” to the protections that the Copyright Act affords copyright owners.

– Defendants whose circumvention devices do not facilitate infringement are not subject to § 1201 liability.

• Storage Tech. Corp. v. Custom Hardware Eng’g, 421 F.3d 1307 (Fed. Cir. 2005).

Page 19: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

MGE UPS Sys. v. GE Consumer & Indus.612 F.3d 760, withdrawn and superseded in part on rehearing,

622 F.3d 361 (5th Cir. 2010) (“MGE I”)

MGE I• “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. See Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Skylink Techs., Inc., 381 F.3d 1178, 1202 (Fed. Cir. 2004).”

Page 20: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

MGE UPS Sys. v. GE Consumer & Indus.612 F.3d 760, withdrawn and superseded in part on rehearing,

622 F.3d 361 (5th Cir. 2010) (“MGE I”)

MGE I• “Without showing a link between ‘access’

and ‘protection’ of the copyrighted work, the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision does not apply. The owner’s technological measure must protect the copyrighted material against an infringement of a right that the Copyright Act protects, not from mere use or viewing.”

Page 21: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

MGE UPS Sys. v. GE Consumer & Indus.612 F.3d 760, withdrawn and superseded in part on rehearing,

622 F.3d 361 (5th Cir. 2010) (“MGE I”)

MGE I• “MGE has not shown that bypassing its dongle infringes

a right protected by the Copyright Act.” – The dongle “merely prevents initial access to the

software.”– Dongle does not prevent the literal code or text of the

software from being freely read and copied once access has been obtained.

– There is no encryption or other form of protection “on the software itself to prevent copyright violations.”

• “Because the dongle does not protect against copyright violations, the mere fact that the dongle itself is circumvented does not give rise to a circumvention violation within the meaning of the DMCA.”

Page 22: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

MGE UPS Sys. v. GE Consumer & Indus.Petition for Rehearing

Amicus Brief of United States• “The United States respectfully urges the Court to

grant panel rehearing and revise its opinion to omit its unnecessary discussion of the types of ‘access’ prohibited by 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1).”

• “The panel’s decision threatens to frustrate Congress’s purpose in section 1201(a)(1), which was to provide a federal prohibition against bypassing passwords, encryption, and other technologies that regulate access to a copyrighted work in circumstances in which the copyright owner would not otherwise have a remedy under the Copyright Act.”

Page 23: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

MGE UPS Sys. v. GE Consumer & Indus.Petition for Rehearing

Amicus Brief of United States• “The panel’s decision is of particular concern to the

United States, moreover, because it essentially renders pointless the administrative authority that Congress granted to the Librarian of Congress under the DMCA to promulgate exemptions to Section 1201(a)(1)’s anti-circumvention prohibition.”

• “The plain language of section 1201(a)(1)(A) thus restricts any unauthorized access to a copyrighted work that is protected by an access control, just as breaking-and-entering laws prohibit any access to a locked house, even if nothing inside is stolen.”

• “Nothing in the text of the statute links ‘access’ with infringement of the underlying copyright.”

Page 24: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

MGE UPS Sys. v. GE Consumer & Indus.Petition for Rehearing

Amicus Brief of United States• “[I]f the ‘access’ prohibited under section 1201(a)(1)(A) must

‘infringe[] a right protected by the Copyright Act,’ then the DMCA only prohibits what the Copyright Act already prohibits.”

• The panel’s reading of the statute conflates (§1201(a)) technological access controls with §1201(b) infringement controls.

• “The panel’s decision also threatens to frustrate Congress’s purposes in enacting section 1201(a)(1). The entire point of that provision was to provide a federal prohibition against bypassing passwords, encryption, and other technologies that regulate access to a copyrighted work in circumstances in which the act of obtaining access would not by itself violate the copyright laws. Congress was concerned that, absent a strong federal prohibition on circumventing such technological locks, copyright owners would be unwilling to release digital versions of their works in online marketplaces.”

Page 25: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

MGE UPS Sys. v. GE Consumer & Indus.Petition for Rehearing

Amicus Brief of United States

“[T]he panel’s discussion of the types of ‘access’ prohibited by section 1201(a)(1) was unnecessary to the outcome. As an alternative ground for affirming the district court’s dismissal of the DMCA claim, the panel held that MGE failed to carry its burden to prove that GE/PMI committed an unauthorized act of circumvention.”

Page 26: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

MGE UPS Sys. v. GE Consumer & Indus.622 F.3d 361 (5th Cir. 2010) (“MGE II”)

MGE II• Because § 1201(a)(1) is targeted at

circumvention, it does not apply to the use of copyrighted works after the technological measure has been circumvented.

• The issue, therefore, is not whether the technological measures that effectively controlled access to MGE's software were circumvented at some point, but whether the actions of GE/PMI's own representatives amounted to circumvention.

• Without proving GE/PMI actually circumvented the technology, MGE does not present a valid DMCA claim.

Page 27: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

MDY Industries v. Blizzard Ent.629 F.3d 928 (9th Cir., Dec. 14, 2010)

• § 1201 creates 2 types of claims– § 1201(a) prohibits the circumvention of any technological

measure that effectively controls access to a protected work and grants copyright owners the right to enforce that prohibition.

– § 1201(b) prohibits trafficking in technologies that circumvent technological measures that effectively protect “a right of a copyright owner.”

• § 1201(a) does not explicitly refer to copyright infringement.– It extends a new form of protection -- the right to prevent

circumvention of access controls, broadly to copyrighted works.– Descrambling a scrambled work and decrypting an encrypted

work— the actions given as examples of circumvention -- are acts that do not necessarily infringe or facilitate infringement of a copyright.

Page 28: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

MDY Industries v. Blizzard Ent.629 F.3d 928 (9th Cir., Dec. 14, 2010)

• 9th Cir. declines to adopt Chamberlain’s “nexus” requirement because it is contrary to plain language of the statute.– Congress chose to link only § 1201(b) explicitly to infringement.– Descrambling and decrypting, regulated by § 1201(a), may only

enable noninfringing access to a work.– Congress created a mechanism in § 1201(a)(1)(B)-(D) (Library

of Congress rulemaking) to exempt certain non-infringing behavior from § 1201(a) liability, a mechanism that would be unnecessary if an infringement nexus requirement existed.

• In mandating a § 1201(a) nexus to infringement, we would deprive copyright owners of the important enforcement tool that Congress granted them to make sure that they are compensated for valuable non-infringing access—for instance, copyright owners who make movies or music available online, protected by an access control measure, in exchange for direct or indirect payment.

Page 29: Regulatory and Judicial Developments Regarding the DMCAs Anticircumvention Provision -- 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a) Fordham Conference on Intellectual Property

MDY Industries v. Blizzard Ent.629 F.3d 928 (9th Cir., Dec. 14, 2010)

• The differences in structure between § 1201(a) and (b) reflect Congress's intent to address distinct concerns by creating different rights with different elements.

• Legislative history: Congress created a new anticircumvention right in § 1201(a)(2) independent of traditional copyright infringement and granted copyright owners a new weapon against copyright infringement in § 1201(b)(1).

• Congress intended, in light of the current digital age, to grant copyright owners an independent right to enforce the prohibition against circumvention of effective technological access controls.

• Section (a) creates a new anticircumvention right distinct from copyright infringement, while section (b) strengthens the traditional

prohibition against copyright infringement.