Fair Use Victories on the DMCA

The Center for Social Media at American University reported on Monday that recent exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright act has greatly expanded the definition of “Fair Use.”  Educators, filmmakers, students and the like can now, “break encryption on commercial DVDs to quote motion pictures, for the purpose of criticism and comment.”  The rules, however, come with restrictions.  The exemption is limited “only to criticism and commentary, not to all potential fair uses; the excerpt must be ‘relatively short’; a new work must be created; and the maker must have a reason why an inferior quality (such as one shot off a screen or from a VHS) is not good enough. The rule only applies to DVDs, not to all audio-visual material–for instance to video games or slideshows.”  It is the responsibility of the user to define “relatively short,” and reason the quality issue.  Media literacy teachers, however, were not included in the exemption because the Copyright Office “did not believe that they really need high-quality versions to do their work.”  Even so, it seems a step in the right direction!