Documentary Makers, Help us Fight for Your Fair Use Rights!

The fair use rights of documentary makers are under assault. Here's how we fight back.

The International Documentary Association (IDA), Kartemquin, and other organizations are asking for all documentary makers to take this 2-minute survey.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal to rip from DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and many other encrypted technologies. The law is blocking our ability to make fair use and could seriously harm documentary filmmaking. Why? Because even though fair use allows us to use copyrighted footage, the DMCA restricts our access to such material.

Luckily, the law lets the Librarian of Congress grant exemptions that allow folks to access the works they need. Documentary filmmakers have one, but it is about to expire. That’s why the IDA, Kartemquin Films, and a host of filmmakers and organizations are fighting for an exemption that will allow filmmakers to access the film clips they need from DVD, Blu-Ray, and online and cable streaming services.

But to do this, we need your help.

The Copyright Office places a heavy emphasis on stories from creators who have been harmed by the DMCA in the past or are likely to be harmed in the future.

Now is the time to do your part. Fill out this 3-question survey, or simply email us. Secure your fair use rights.

We need as many responses as possible, and we’d like to hear from you by Monday, January 12 in order to meet the deadline for submission. (We would still love to hear from you after our deadline, but responses received by January 12 will be vastly more helpful.)

Thank you for your help in this fight to preserve our fair use rights!

Read more, including FAQs and background information on documentary fair use, via

PHOTO: Outside the Library of Congress after testifying before the U.S. Copyright Office on DMCA exemptions in 2012. (left to right) UCI Law Professor, Jack Lerner and USC IP Clinic students Brendan Charney and Alex Cohen, Michael Donaldson (Donaldson & Callif and co-counsel to the clinic), Jim Morrissette (Technical Director, Kartemquin Films) and Gordon Quinn (Founder and Artistic Director, Kartemquin Films). Photo courtesy of USC IP Clinic.