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Every three years, the librarian of Congress determines when scrambling technology that protects copyrighted works can be legally “circumvented”, i.e., hacked. The goal of the exercise, part of § 1201 of the 1998 copyright law, is to prevent anti-piracy technology from halting our ability to use works in noninfringing ways. For example, in 2007, film professors were allowed to circumvent DVD piracy protection to compile film clips for classroom use.

This summer’s “Get Out Of Jail Free” cards again addressed DVDs, this time granting professors and “media studies students” the right to incorporate short portions of motion pictures into documentaries, noncommercial videos and educational uses like criticism or comment.

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