Copyright Office Releases Report on Section 1201
Issue No. 671 - June 22, 2017
The U.S. Copyright Office today released a report entitled “Section 1201 of Title 17.” The report details the findings of the Office’s study of section 1201—the first comprehensive public study of that provision since it was enacted nearly twenty years ago. Section 1201 provides legal protection for technological protection measures (TPMs) used by copyright owners to prevent unauthorized access to or use of their works. The report addresses a variety of issues raised by stakeholders over the course of the study, including consumer issues, the need for new or amended statutory exemptions, the triennial rulemaking process governing temporary exemptions, and the prohibitions on trafficking in tools designed to circumvent TPMs.
The Office does not recommend altering the basic framework of section 1201, concluding that its overall structure and scope remain sound. The Office does, however, recommend certain legislative updates, including expanding existing provisions that allow circumvention of TPMs for security and encryption research and adding new provisions to allow circumvention for other purposes, such as the use of assistive reading technologies and the repair of devices. The Office also recommends an amendment to give the Librarian of Congress discretion to authorize third parties to assist the beneficiaries of temporary exemptions granted via the statute’s triennial rulemaking proceeding. In addition, the Office has identified changes it can make under the current regulatory framework to streamline the process for renewing exemptions and otherwise improve upon the rulemaking process for greater efficiency and public participation.
The full report is available on the Copyright Office’s website at https://www.copyright.gov/policy/1201/.