There was lots of chatter this past week about an oft-referenced law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a law written nearly twenty years ago that was designed to — among many things — help keep unauthorized music and movies off this new invention called the Internet. That was 1998, the dial-up era.
The lack of reforms to the DMCA were once again a major story this past week for good reason: a variety of music community voices submitted comments to the U.S. Copyright Office as part of its ongoing study of the law. For one, there was a joint filing of a coalition of 15 music groups (of which we were a part, see here) that outlined our position on the outdated law and offered possible solutions to help make DMCA-dependent platforms such as YouTube more artist-friendly.
…as numerous copyright owners point out in their comments, the notice and takedown system as currently configured results in an endless game of whack-a-mole, with infringing content that is removed from a site one moment reposted to the same site and other sites moments later, to be repeated ad infinitem.
The DMCA safe harbors suffer from numerous key failings that have resulted in a heavily skewed playing field where service providers can either comply with their minimal safe harbor obligations — and thereby obtain immunity from damages liability and avoid obtaining licenses from rightsholders — or use the safe harbors strategically in licensing negotiations with rightsholders to extract rates far below fair market value.
–Coalition of 15 music organizations to U.S. Copyright Office
That filing — representing the views of virtually the entire U.S. music industry — gained some traction with various news outlets:
What else? Legendary musician and music producer T Bone Burnett submitted a video on behalf of the Content Creators Coalition that featured a powerful commentary on the need to fix the DMCA’s notice and takedown process to work for creators:
Everyone with a stake in the Internet’s success and the health of our creative democracy must work together to make this right. It’s time for Congress to close the loopholes in section 512 of the DMCA. Our culture is at stake.
— Legendary musician and producer T Bone Burnett
And more than 40 artists and songwriters spanning all genres and generations joined together to add their names to form the words “YouTube Can Do Better” in a short video submission to the Office:
The music community will continue to raise its voice when it comes to outdated laws like the DMCA. We stand ready and willing to work with technology companies and policymakers across the world on meaningful, effective reforms that protect creators’ rights and advance innovation. We are confident we can do both. The drumbeat calling for reform will only become louder.