Eighth Triennial Section 1201 Proceeding (2021)

The Copyright Office has initiated the eighth 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.

The Office is again using a streamlined procedure for the renewal of exemptions that were granted during the seventh triennial rulemaking. If renewed, those current exemptions would remain in force for an additional three-year period (October 2021–October 2024).

Written petitions for renewal of current exemptions were due July 22, 2020, written comments in response to any petitions for renewal were due September 8, 2020, and written petitions proposing new exemptions were due September 8, 2020.

On October 15, 2020, the Office issued a notice of proposed rulemaking. As discussed in that notice, the Office has reviewed all renewal petitions and related comments and concludes that it has received a sufficient petition to renew each existing exemption and does not find any meaningful opposition to renewal. Accordingly, the Office intends to recommend readoption of all existing exemptions.

The Office has evaluated the petitions for new or expanded exemptions and grouped them into 17 classes, which are described in greater detail in the notice. The Office is now initiating three rounds of public comment on those classes of exemptions.

The Office is accepting two types of written comments, both of which must be submitted electronically through regulations.gov. First, commenters who wish to briefly express general support for or opposition to a proposed exemption may submit short-form comments electronically directly through regulations.gov. Please note that the short-form comment should identify the specific class of exemption to which the comment pertains. Second, longer submissions for those who wish to provide a full legal and evidentiary basis for their position must be completed using the Office’s long comment form provided at the link above. Additionally, the Office is accepting multimedia evidence submitted in conformity with the Office’s instructions. For more information about how to submit written comments and multimedia evidence, please see the Office’s instructions by clicking the “Submission Instructions” link above.

In the first round of comments, which were due December 14, 2020, the Office sought legal and evidentiary submissions from parties who support the adoption of a proposed exemption, as well as parties who 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 due February 9, 2021, and reply comments were due March 10, 2021.

The Office held public hearings in this proceeding on April 5–8 and April 19–21, 2021, via Zoom.

Participants in the proceeding are encouraged to familiarize themselves with section 1201(a)(1) and the rulemaking requirements so they can maximize the effectiveness of their submissions. For more information, commenters should carefully review the notice of proposed rulemaking and submission instructions available on this page. Additional background information about section 1201 is available at 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.