On October 28, 1998, H.R. 2281, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), was enacted into law. The DMCA directed the Register of Copyrights and the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information of the Department of Commerce to prepare a report for Congress examining the impact of Section 1201(g) on encryption research, including legislative recommendations — if any — no later than one year after enactment of the DMCA.
Section 1201(a) of the DMCA prohibits circumvention of certain technological measures that effectively controls access to copyrighted works. Section 1201(g) creates a limited exception from this prohibition for encryption research. The DMCA defines "encryption research" as identification and analysis of flaws and vulnerabilities of encryption technologies applied to copyrighted works. This activity must promote understanding of encryption technology or advance the development of encryption products.