It’s time for the tri-yearly circus to kick off again. Ars Technica reports that it’s just about time for the Library of Congress to consider granting exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s DRM anti-circumvention provisions. This process comes every three years, and the exemptions last only until the next exemption granting—which means that even already-granted exemptions have to be requested and argued again.

The last go-round resulted in six exemptions, including allowing circumvention for incorporating clips into new works for purpose of criticism or comment, including educational purposes. (Apparently the MPAA’s suggestion that professors should just point a camcorder at the screen didn’t go over very well.) It also permitted jailbreaking iPhones, and cracking e-book DRM if and only if no other method existed to use screen-reading of text-to-speech with the DRM-locked version.

Of course, all those things will have to be argued again this time around, and the MPAA and other content lobbies have historically been quite willing to step up and argue against them—and perhaps they learned something from their failures last time around.

The whole process will take several months; if last time was any example, we won’t know the results until late July—but look for reports on both sides’ antics in months to come if any prove to be worth mentioning.


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