Seventh Triennial Section 1201 Proceeding (2018)


The Copyright Office has initiated the seventh triennial rulemaking proceeding under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), 17 U.S.C. § 1201, which provides that the Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, may adopt temporary exemptions to section 1201’s prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. The ultimate goal of the proceeding is to determine whether there are particular classes of works as to which users are, or are likely to be in the next three years, adversely affected in their ability to make noninfringing uses due to the prohibition on circumventing access controls. When such classes are identified, the Librarian promulgates regulations exempting the classes from the prohibition for the succeeding three-year period. As set forth in its prior notice of inquiry, the Office established a new, streamlined procedure for the renewal of exemptions that were granted during the sixth triennial rulemaking.


With the petition phase concluded, in October 2017, the Office issued a notice of proposed rulemaking. As discussed in that notice, the Office reviewed all renewal petitions and related comments and concluded that it had received a sufficient petition to renew each existing exemption and did not find any meaningful opposition to renewal. Accordingly, the Office intends to recommend readoption of all existing exemptions.


The Office evaluated the petitions for new or expanded exemptions and grouped them into 12 classes, which are described in greater detail in the notice. The Office then initiated three rounds of public comment on those classes of exemptions.


In the first round of comments, the Office sought legal and evidentiary submissions from parties who support the adoption of a proposed exemption, as well as parties that neither support nor oppose an exemption but seek to share pertinent information about a proposal. Responsive legal and evidentiary submissions from those who oppose the adoption of a proposed exemption were the submitted. Subsequently, written reply comments from supporters of a proposed exemption and parties that neither support nor oppose a proposed exemption were submitted.


The United States Copyright Office held public hearings concerning the proposed exemptions. The public hearings took place in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.


Additional background information about section 1201 is available at https://www.copyright.gov/1201/, which contains helpful resources, such as video tutorials, the Office’s recent policy study on section 1201, and links to prior rulemaking proceedings.



  • For more information and background on section 1201 and the triennial rulemaking process, including links to video tutorials, the Office’s report on section 1201, and materials from prior rulemaking proceedings, please click here.