“As today’s decision confirms, judicial review of federal agency actions is a cornerstone of the American legal system.”
—Cory L. Andrews, WLF General Counsel & Vice President of Litigation

(Washington, DC)—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today vacated a federal trial-court’s dismissal of an important challenge to a final rule issued by the Library of Congress. The decision was a victory for WLF, which had joined the National Association of Manufacturers on an amicus brief drafted by David Chung and Elizabeth Dawson of Crowell & Moring LLP.

The appeal arose from a suit by medical device makers against the Library of Congress. At issue is the Library’s authority under Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which prohibits any attempt to “circumvent a technological measure” as an act of copyright infringement. Among other things, Section 1201 was intended to limit access to proprietary software embedded in medical equipment. In a final rule adopted in 2021, however, the Library exempted companies that repair medical devices, allowing them to bypass Section 1201’s robust copyright protections. When medical device makers sued alleging that the exemption exceeds the Librarian’s congressional authority and violates the separation of powers, the court dismissed the suit.

In its opinion today vacating the district court’s dismissal, the D.C. Circuit agreed that the text and structure of the DMCA and the Copyright Act provide for APA review of the Library’s rules. “This conclusion,” the court explained, “accords with the background principle favoring judicial review of administrative action and harmonizes the scheme of copyright regulation and judicial review established by the Copyright Act and the DMCA.”