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Tri-Annual DMCA Rulemaking Process Underway—IP Caucus Member Participates

In June of 2012, Dr. Martine Courant Rife, a writing professor at Lansing Community College and an active member and former chair of the NCTE-CCCC’s IP Caucus, traveled to Washington D.C. to testify at the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) tri-annual rulemaking hearings. Dr. Rife, who holds a PhD in Rhetoric and Writing with a concentration in intellectual property and technical communication, as well as a law degree from the University of Denver, also participated in the last round of hearings in 2009.

Other 2012 panel participants included Francesca Coppa, Associate Professor of English and Film Studies, Muhlenberg College; Tisha Turk, Associate Professor of English, University of Minnesota-Morris; Corynne McSherry, Intellectual Property Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation; Renee Hobbs, Professor and Founding Director of the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island, as well as many other educators and legal professionals. These educational stakeholder-witnesses were asking the Copyright Office to retain and expand exemptions to the DMCA issued in 2010 that under certain circumstances allow college professors to circumvent technology protections on DVDs in order to access movie clips for educational purposes. Also present at the hearings were corporate media stakeholders who offered counter-arguments to the educational community’s request for educational exemptions.

A formal transcript of testimony given at these hearings eventually will be made available by the Copyright Office, but for the moment summaries and partial transcriptions can be accessed at a blog maintained by Rebecca Tushnet, a Law Professor at Georgetown University Law Center and a hearing participant. The 2010 exemptions that are at issue in this rulemaking process can be reviewed here: These existing educational exemptions are set to expire once the Register of Copyright’s final recommendations are issued.

The Register of Copyright’s formal recommendations for possible educational exemptions to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions should be out by the end of this year. Currently, an extended question and answer period is taking place in order to further inform the Register of Copyright in her decision making process. Please watch the Inbox postings for further information on this issue.

For information in general on the DMCA hearings, or to review materials submitted in response to a request by the Copyright Office for written comments, please visit

For earlier coverage of the DMCA and its impact on educators and students, see the following IP Reports:

Part One: The New DMCA Exemption for College Teachers and Students 

Part Two: What Teachers Can Learn about Fair Use in Remix Writing from the US Copyright Office

See also the article “DMCA Developments Relevant to Educators” in Top Intellectual Property Developments of 2010.

This column is sponsored by the Intellectual Property Committee of the CCCC and the CCCC-Intellectual Property Caucus. The IP Caucus maintains a mailing list. If you would like to receive notices of programs sponsored by the Caucus or of opportunities to submit articles either to this column or to the annual report on intellectual property issues, please contact

Intellectual Property Reports Main Page 

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