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Copyright police reject space shifting

November 9, 2012

In case you missed this bit of news, on October 26 the US Librarian of Congress and the Register of Copyrights turned down two requests for loosening the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). One of the rejected exemptions concerned space shifting — converting a physical medium to a digital format in order to consume the contents on another device.

I’m not a lawyer, but if I correctly understand what I have read, a private individual may not rip a DVD she owns in order to view the video on an iPad. Specifically, she may not circumvent copy protection to do this. (I’ve been told, by the way, that conversion software does not always make it obvious that you’re going around anything.)

The ban on space-shifting could have a ripple effect on college campuses. You may remember the lawsuit filed by the AIME against UCLA over streaming video. If universities are space-shifting in order to provide such a service, does the new ruling mean they have to stop? Some specific exemptions were made previously for educational institutions and it’s still okay to rip a DVD in order to make video clips for educational use. Nevertheless, this latest decision is troubling.

Further reading

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