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New DVD Copyright Exception

FaithTools Blog - by - July 28, 2010 - 21:38 America/New_York - 2 Comments

The Library of Congress issued five new exceptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) of 1998. The fact that you can now legally jailbreak an iPhone seems to be getting most of the press. But one of the exceptions may positively affect churches that would like to show a short clip from a legally purchased DVD.

Before the latest exemptions were made on July 26, 2010, it was illegal to play clip from a DVD in a public setting (i.e. a church service) without obtaining a specific performance license. But even obtaining the proper performance license would still only allow you to play the DVD. You could not capture a clip (even if just to drop it into your presentation software). And you certainly could not edit the clip in any way.

But things seem to have changed. Here is the new exemption as stated on the website for the U.S. Copyright Office:

The Librarian of Congress has announced the classes of works subject to the exemption from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. Persons making noninfringing uses of the following six classes of works will not be subject to the prohibition against circumventing access controls (17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)) until the conclusion of the next rulemaking.

(1) 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.

This is what I understand the new exemption to state.

If you are making a noncommercial film (and everything we create at SFCC is noncommercial), then it is legal to circumvent the copy protection built-in to DVD’s in order to capture and incorporate short clips from that DVD into a new work that is created for the purpose of comment. And that is exactly why our church uses movie clips- to start a conversation.

It should be important to note that I am NOT a lawyer, and you should consult yours before doing anything rash (like canceling your CLVI or Church Copyright Solutions blanket licenses or deleting all of your WingClips purchases).

I am merely stating that it is my opinion that the copyright rules have changed, and it appears to be a fortunate change for church video producers.

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    1. osborn4 says:

      Actually, churches are commercial, just (generally) non-profit.

    2. CCS says:

      There is nothing in this ruling that addresses the underlying facts about when a DVD can be played with or without permission.

      What this ruling says is that if you are using a clip under a current exemption, such as Fair Use, you can circumvent the copy protection technology that prevents copying.

      This addresses a case where a person has an exemption for performance, for example a film teacher who want to use a clip under the ‘ Face to Face teaching exemption. Even though this use was permitted, cracking the DVD protection methods to do so was still illegal. This ruling addresses that.

      So to be clear, there is nothing here that addresses what exemptions are available to the church. Permission is still required for churches to show video clips.

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