May 25, 2022

Just In: U.S. Copyright Office Publishes Final Rule With DMCA Exemptions

The final rule with DMCA exemptions will be published tomorrow (October 26, 2012) in the Federal Register but a pre-publication version of the full text is available now. The effective date for the final rule is October 28, 2012.

The exemptions come after the Fifth Triennial Section 1201 Rulemaking Proceeding conducted by the U.S. Copyright Office).

From the Federal Register (69 pages; PDF):

The Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, has determined that the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that effectively control access to copyrighted works shall not apply to persons who engage in noninfringing uses of certain classes of works.

Exempt Classes

Upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, the Librarian has determined that the following classes of works shall be exempt from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures set forth in Section 1201(a)(1)(A):

A. Literary works distributed electronically – assistive technologies [Background and Copyright Office Explanation on Page 8 of PDF]

B. Wireless telephone handsets – software interoperability [Page 12 of PDF]

C. Wireless telephone handsets – interoperability with alternative network [Page 16 of PDF]
Aka unlocking.

In order to align the exemption to current market realities, it applies only to mobile phones acquired prior to the effective date of the exemption or within 90 days thereafter.

D. Motion picture excerpts – commentary, criticism, and educational uses [Pages 21-23 of PDF]

E. Motion pictures and other audiovisual works – captioning and descriptive audio [Page 35 of PDF]

Classes Considered But Not Recommended

A. Literary works in the public domain – digital access [Page 41 of the PDF]

B. Video game consoles – software interoperability [Page 42 of the PDF]

C. Personal computing devices – software interoperability [Page 52 of the PDF]

D. Motion pictures and other works on DVDs and other media – space shifting [Page 58 of the PDF]

Full Text: Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention: Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies

The recommendation document (169 pages; PDF) delivered to the Librarian of Congress on October 12, 2012 is also available.

Section 1201 Rulemaking 2012 Recommendation

Additional Materials From Hearings, Letters to the Copyright Office, Public Comments and More Can Be Found Here

Hat Tip and Big Thank You: Prue Adler at ARL

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.