Section 1201 Exemptions to Prohibition Against Circumvention of Technological Measures Protecting Copyrighted Works

Seventh Triennial Section 1201 Proceeding, 2018 Cycle


The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), codified in part in 17 U.S.C. § 1201, makes it unlawful to circumvent technological measures used to prevent unauthorized access to copyrighted works, including copyrighted books, movies, video games, and computer software. Section 1201, however, also directs the Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights following a rulemaking proceeding, to determine whether the prohibition on circumvention is having, or is likely to have an adverse effect on users’ ability to make noninfringing uses of particular classes of copyrighted works. Upon such a determination, the Librarian may adopt limited temporary exemptions waiving the general prohibition against circumvention for such users for the ensuing three-year period.

The Copyright Office has concluded the seventh triennial rulemaking proceeding under section 1201. This page contains links to the Acting Register’s Recommendation; the final rule announcing the exemptions; an excerpt of the Recommendation containing its introduction and the Acting Register’s recommended regulatory language; and a document addressing frequently asked questions. The right-hand side of this page also provides links to the record materials in this proceeding, including the recommendation letter submitted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Department of Commerce to the Acting Register, petitions for exemptions, written public comments, transcripts and video recordings of the public hearings, and post-hearing materials.

Additional background information and helpful resources about section 1201, including video tutorials, the Office’s recent policy study on section 1201, and links to prior rulemaking proceedings are available here.