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IT Trends :: Thursday, November 30, 2006


Smashing the Shackles of Intentionally Dysfunctional Technology

By Terry Calhoun

Until last week, it hadn’t “clicked” inside my head that the Library of Congress could or would make specific exemptions to copyright laws. That might be because it d'esn’t do that very often, and it might be because the rulings can be pretty specific to defined groups of people. For example, one of the new exemptions permits film professors – only film professors – to legally break the CSS copy-protection technology on film DVDs in order to copy snippets for instructional use.

No, the ruling d'es not give professors permission to use such snippets under the fair use exemption that we already know about. They already had that right. This new exemption lets them, and only them, specifically break the copy-protection if they can. Even though fair use had previously let them use snippets, they were technically breaking the law by taking the snippets from protected DVDs. So they were in a catch-22 situation; able to use the materials for instructional purposes, but kept from actually doing so by technological Gordian knots...

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