Industry Leaders Call For DMCA Reforms

T Bone Burnett

Singer/songwriter/producer T Bone Burnett leads several music industry members and organizations in calling for reforms to the DMCA notice-and-takedown process. Burnett submitted a video decrying the “broken” Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which requires search engines and video-sharing websites such as YouTube to take down music that has been posted without the approval of the appropriate copyright owners.

Additionally 15 major music industry organizations have joined to file new comments with the U.S. Copyright Office, which is directing a review of the safe harbor provisions contained in the DMCA.

Those organizations include the American Federation of Musicians; American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; Broadcast Music, Inc.; Content Creators Coalition; Global Music Rights; Living Legends Foundation; Music Managers Forum – United States; Nashville Songwriters Association International; National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences; National Music Publishers’ Association; Recording Industry Association of America; Rhythm and Blues Foundation; Screen Actors Guild –American Federation of Television and Radio Artists; SESAC Holdings, Inc.; and SoundExchange.

“Everyone with a stake in the Internet’s success and the health of our creative democracy must work together to make this right,” Burnett says in the video. “It’s time for Congress to close the loopholes in section 512 of the DMCA. Our culture is at stake.”

The newly-submitted comments describe what the organizations call key failings with the DMCA.

“In the context of search engines and the Section 512(d) safe harbor, the whack- a-mole problem takes a different form: links to infringing content are removed in response to a takedown notice, but then other links to infringements of the same work reappear in search results on the same service. In addition, Google’s search algorithm and search-term suggestion often promotes popular, infringing sites over authorized, legitimate sites for neutral searches for mp3s or downloads of music. Both of these issues are an enormous problem for copyright owner because search engines continue to be a key driver for music discovery and a significant tool that leads traffic to infringing sites.”

T Bone Burnett on the Broken DMCA Safe Harbors from Content Creators Coalition on Vimeo.

“This proceeding is focused on the legal safe harbors in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act – the law that was supposed to balance the Internet’s openness with creators’ ability to earn a living wage from their work,” Burnett stated in his submitted video. “Those safe harbors have failed. The problems are familiar – they are well described in the record of these proceedings from the broken Sisyphus climb of “notice and takedown” to the gunpoint negotiations and pittance wages forced upon creators by the Google monopoly. The Big Tech itopians can track us across dozens of networks, devices, and profiles to bombard us with micro targeted ads, but they can’t even identify unauthorized copies of our work and keep them off their own servers and systems. Or they won’t. The problem here isn’t technology – creators welcome the digital revolution and its power to connect, amplify, and inspire. A modern recording studio looks more like a cockpit than a honky tonk, and that’s just fine.

“The problem is business models – designed to scrape away value rather than fuel new creation, focused on taking rather than making. To restore technology’s place as the rightful partner of tomorrow’s creators, we need change. The safe harbors must be restored – so only responsible actors earn their protection, not those who actively profit from the abuse and exploitation of creators’ work. Technology must be enlisted to make the system work better, not to roadblock progress in a pointless arms race of whack a mole and digital deception. Creators must be given meaningful tools to earn a living from their art.”


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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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