Copyright Office provides exemptions to DMCA

In the most exemptions ever offered, Copyright Office permits breaking copy protection for academic use of DVDs, switching cellphone carriers and preserving ancient computer software.

The new copyright laws this week issued by the Library of Congress' Copyright Office is welcome news for film professors and cell phone users alike, as the new laws exempt certain groups from copyright restrictions, reports the The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Library of Congress relaxed some aspects of the copyright laws this week, allowing film professors to copy parts of DVDs for educational use, blind people to use special software to read copy-protected e-books, archivists to copy obsolete computer software and video games requiring machines no longer available, and cell phone users to pull the software locks off their handsets to gain access to other carriers.

"I am very encouraged by the fact that the Copyright Office is willing to recognize exemptions for archivists, cell phone recyclers and computer security experts," said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney with the civil-liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Frankly I'm surprised and pleased they were granted."

The Librarian of Congress James H. Billington approved six exemptions, the most his Copyright Office has ever granted. For the first time, the office exempted groups of users.

The Copyright Office did, however, reject a number of exemptions that could have benefited consumers, including one that would have let owners of DVDs legally copy movies for use on Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod and other portable players.

At least one phone company has filed a lawsuit claiming that breaking the software locks violates copyright law, which makes it illegal for people to circumvent copy-protection technologies without an exemption from the Copyright Office.

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