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Copyright Office Adds Exemptions to DCMA

Cell phone owners can now break locks to use their handsets with competing carriers, while film professors have the right to copy snippets from DVDs for educational compilations, the U.S. Copyright Office said Wednesday.

Other rights declared in the government's triennial review of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act seek to improve access for the blind and to obsolete works and let security researchers try to break copy-protection technologies embedded in CDs.

All told, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington approved six exemptions, the most his Copyright Office has ever granted. For the first time, the office gave an exemption to a group of users. Previously, Billington took an all-or-nothing approach, making them difficult to justify.

"I am very encouraged by the fact that the Copyright Office is willing to recognize exemptions for archivists, cell phone recyclers and computer security experts," said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney with the civil-liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Frankly I'm surprised and pleased they were granted."

But he said he was disappointed the Copyright Office rejected a number of exemptions that could have benefited consumers, including one that would let owners of DVDs legally copy movies for use on Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod and other music players.

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