Should there be some changes to how exemptions are issued to a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that bars circumvention of anti-piracy technologies? While there’s deep disagreement over the broader question of whether the anti-circumvention section of the 1998 law is beneficial or problematic, some witnesses at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Wednesday seemed to think it’s at least worth looking at changes to how certain exemptions are handled.
“At a bare minimum, we urge Congress to take action to relieve the burden of repeatedly seeking re-approval of uncontroversial exemptions like the one we must re-propose during each review,” Mark Richert, public policy director at the American Foundation for the Blind, wrote in his prepared testimony.
The Library of Congress issues exemptions every three years to that section of the 1998 law, but the process begins anew for each cycle. Certain exemptions in previous years have been granted for accessibility of e-books for the blind.
While Christian Genetski, senior vice president and general counsel for the Entertainment Software Alliance, said there’s been “unrivaled innovation” since enactment of the 1998 law, he seemed open to changes to how certain exemptions are handled.
“I think that we all share the frustration expressed by Mr. Richert in his testimony about the need to return repeatedly and use extensive resources to seek… renewal of an exemption” where there isn’t opposition, Genetski said. “I think there are instances like those where now we have the experience of several iterations of the rulemaking process where we see some patterns emerge.”
He added that there are areas emerging, like ones Richert speaks to, that could “warrant some thought about how we might address situations like that.”
Similarly, Jonathan Zuck, president of ACT – The App Association, said that the law “taken as a whole” has worked, but also said there’s “room for improvement” in the triennial review process “to make that process more fluid and create fewer impediments to legitimate exemptions.”