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EFF Comments Seek Consumer Copying, Ad-Skipping Rights

18 Dec, 2002 By: Hive News

Consumer watchdog group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today urged the Librarian of Congress (LoC) to recognize skipping commercials on DVDs, viewing DVDs non-Region 1 discs and playing copy-protected CDs on the players of their choice as consumer rights.

EFF has long sought exemptions from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA) prohibition on bypassing technological protections used to limit consumer use of DVDs and copy-protected CDs.

"Many great films are available only outside the U.S.," said EFF staff attorney Gwen Hinze. "We urge the LoC to allow film buffs to play movies they've legitimately purchased outside the U.S. without fear of breaking the law."

The Librarian of Congress has been gathering public comments on the anti-circumvention provisions for about six weeks. The public comment period closes today; those with opposite views will have several weeks to respond. During that response period, studios and movie trade groups are expected to state their positions.Public interest advocacy group Public Knowledge joined EFF in filing the comments prepared with the assistance of law students at the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic of Washington College of Law.

EFF asked the LoC to create DMCA exemptions for four types of digital media:

    1) music on copy-protected CDs;
    2) movies on DVDs whose region coding restrictions prevent playback on U.S. players;
    3) movies on DVDs that prevent ad skipping; and
    4) movies in the public domain released on DVD.

Recent distribution of copy-protected CDs makes some CDs unplayable on PCs and DVD players.

"The music industry intends to stop copying, but the copy-protected CDs they sell are completely unplayable in many PCs and newer disc players," said EFF senior Intellectual Property attorney Fred von Lohmann. "When I buy a CD, I should at least be able to play it on my CD players."

This rulemaking procedure allows the Librarian of Congress and the Copyright Office to grant limited three-year exemptions to the DMCA's blanket prohibition on bypassing technological protection measures. In that way, users could access particular classes of copyrighted works that are protected by digital protection mechanisms.

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