Monday 27 May 2013

RIAA calls for DCMA 'safe harbor' and takedown review

Back in November 2011 we blogged that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) wanted “DCMA clarity” from Congress  - and now the recording industry's trade organization has urged Congress to overhaul the safe harbor provision of copyright law that shield websites from infringement actions provided they remove infringing material after being notified, saying the law is too burdensome for copyright holders.

Congress is planning a comprehensive review of copyright law in the digital era, and RIAA Executive Vice President for Anti-Piracy Brad Buckles said in a post on the organization's website that "the balance is off" in the current system and  “it’s time to rethink the notice and takedown provisions of the DMCA” , going on to outline the various ways that the DMCA isn’t working.

In the blog, titled “One Year, 20 Million Links To Illegal Songs Sent To Google: This Is How It's Supposed To Work?” Buckles says “We are using a bucket to deal with an ocean of illegal downloading” in a post to mark the 20 millionth takedown notice the trade body has issued against Google, requesting that it remove from its search engine a link to unlicensed music content - urging Congress to increase the obligations of web companies which of course enjoy safe harbour protection from copyright infringement claims where they host or link to infringing content, by operating a takedown process.

Buckles is suggesting that the likes of Google and YouTube owners should be more proactive in ensuring that unlicensed content identified by rights owners is blocked or removed permanently, and from wherever it may be stored. At the moment content companies issuing takedown notices generally have to be very specific about the piece of content they object to, which is clearly perceived to be a major burden by content owners  with Buckles saying  “Under a controversial interpretation by search engines, takedown notices must be directed at specific links to specific sound recordings and do nothing to stop the same files from being reposted as fast as they are removed. It is certainly fair for search engines to say that they have no way of knowing whether a particular link on a specific site represents an illegal copy or not. Perhaps it’s fair for them to make that same claim at the second notice. But what about after a thousand notices for the same song on the same site?”

He goes on: “As the Congressional review of the DMCA gets underway, there should be a strong focus on what notice and takedown was supposed to accomplish. The DMCA was intended to define the way forward for technology firms and content creators alike, but some aspects of it no longer work. How could we expect it to? It was passed before Google even existed, or the iPod, or peer-to-peer file-sharing or slick websites offering free mp3 downloads. It was after the DMCA that Napster, and Grokster and LimeWire and Grooveshark and MegaUpload, to name just a few, came on the scene. In particular, it’s time to rethink the notice and takedown provisions of the DMCA”.

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