Help in the fight against DMCA anti-circumvention rules by December 15th

We are submitting comments in support of every new proposed exemption to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act's (DMCA) anti-circumvention provisions. Lend your voice to the chorus by December 15th.

In the fight against Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is public enemy number one, due to its anti-circumvention provisions. These provisions create legal penalties for trying to take back control from the DRM on your own software, music, movies, and devices. As we previously explained:

This facet of the law completely violates users' rights to their own devices, and their legitimate use rights to copyrighted works. The law further criminalizes the sharing of tools and information needed to circumvent these restrictions. As paltry compensation, Congress did carve out a narrow window of opportunity to exempt certain uses via the DMCA exemption process.

The 2018 round of the triennial DMCA anti-circumvention exemptions process is already upon us. This process is fundamentally broken, as we noted back in 2015:

Every three years, supporters of user rights are forced to go through a Kafkaesque process fighting for exemptions from the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA... In short, under the DMCA's rules, everything not permitted is forbidden. Unless we expend time and resources to protect and expand exemptions, users could be threatened with legal consequences for circumventing the digital restrictions management (DRM) on their own devices and software and could face criminal penalties for sharing tools that allow others to do the same. Exemptions don't fix the harm brought about by the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions, but they're the only crumbs Congress deigned to throw us when they tossed out our rights as users.

Since then, the Copyright Office conducted a study about the process of granting these exemptions. Unfortunately, the outcome left us in much the same position as before. Some of the formalities have changed, but at its heart the process remains a bureaucratic nightmare, now with an accelerated time frame. But there is some good news.

In July of 2016, we asked you to join with us in calling for every previously granted exemption to be renewed. To our surprise, the Copyright Office acquiesced. All exemptions granted in the last round were defended thanks to you lending your voice to the chorus and pushing to defend the rights of users. But now that we've had success on defense, it's time to go on the offensive and push for more.

The next step in the process is filing comments in support of newly submitted exemptions. Just like in the 2015 round of this process, we are calling on the Copyright Office to grant each newly requested exemption. Even though they're limited in number, we still want to push for each one to be granted. Each exemption is an opportunity to chip away at these restrictions, even while working hardest toward abolishing them entirely. Our comments once again call on the Copyright Office to end this circus once and for all, and grant an exemption for any use. But we can't do it alone. We protected all previously granted exemptions this summer, but it was only with your help.

While these rules govern users in the United States directly, the harm is truly global. If users in the US cannot study their own devices, or share the tools to do so, then everyone loses out on the advancements that could have been shared with the world. That is why users everywhere must fight to end these restrictions.

We need as many voices as we can get in this fight. Will you help us protect the rights of users once again? Here is what you can do:

  • Support our comments for new exemptions by December 15th by emailing us at We just need your name and state (or country if you are outside the US) to add your voice to the chorus. Note that we may make small revisions to the comment texts between now and the submission date, but the conclusions will stay the same.

  • Keep up to date on this battle and the larger fight against DRM by subscribing to our mailing list.

  • Support our work in this area by making a donation. The Free Software Foundation is in the middle of our annual fundraiser, and every little bit helps.