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AAUP Urges Copyright Exemption for Researchers

The AAUP signed onto a long-form comment seeking an exemption from a prohibition on circumventing technological protection measures for text and data mining (TDM) of lawfully accessed motion pictures and lawfully accessed literary works distributed electronically. The comment was submitted yesterday to the US Copyright Office with Authors Alliance and the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (the Berkeley Clinic).  

The AAUP supports the exemption because faculty and academic researchers are and will continue to be adversely affected in their ability to make fair use of motion pictures and literary works if they are prohibited from accessing certain classes of works. As the comment argues, 

. . . the prohibition deters TDM users from applying the technique to in-copyright motion pictures and literary works distributed electronically. As a result, researchers are rarely able to use this technique to understand contemporary motion pictures or literary works. This deprives the public of the knowledge that could be derived about motion pictures and literary works created during most of the 20th century and all of the 21st. In addition, it means that the technique is difficult to apply to certain categories of authors, including women and people of color, because earlier works were overwhelmingly produced by authors who were white and male. Further, entire topics are difficult to study because they have risen to prominence more recently, such as the portrayal of people with certain disabilities.

The TDM comment is supported by letters from faculty and academic researchers who describe the impediment the prohibition poses to their scholarship as well as the research agendas they will pursue if an exemption is granted. The AAUP is delighted to be working with the Berkeley Clinic for the first time. 

Publication Date: 
Monday, December 14, 2020