Music Advocacy Groups Challenge Tech Platforms Following Release Of Copyright Office Report

The American Association of Independent Music, the Music Artists Coalition, the National Music Publishers Association, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Songwriters of North America, and SoundExchange have issued a statement in response to the release of the U.S. Copyright Office’s report on Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The U.S. Copyright Office released the report on Thursday (May 21). The report focuses on Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), questioning whether the balance that Congress devised in section 512 more than 20 years ago working for all concerned parties. The Copyright Office surveyed copyright holders as well as online digital service providers and taken more than 92,000 comments into consideration.

“The Copyright Office concludes that the balance Congress intended when it established the section 512 safe harbor system is askew,” the report concludes. “There is no doubt that the internet, in all its various component parts, has grown successfully and exponentially over the past two decades. However, despite the advances in legitimate content options and delivery systems, and despite the millions of takedown notices submitted on a daily basis, the scale of online copyright infringement and the lack of effectiveness of section 512 notices to address that situation remain significant problems. While the Office is mindful of those creators who have been able to leverage new technologies to their benefit, their economic success does not provide comfort to the many other creators who have seen their livelihoods impacted drastically by ongoing infringement of their works online and for which they can achieve no relief.”

The report notes that the Copyright Office is “not recommending any wholesale changes to section 512, instead electing to point out the numerous areas where Congress may wish to fine-tune section 512’s current operation in order to better balance the rights and responsibilities of OSPs and rightsholders, in alignment with its objectives when it passed the DMCA.”

The American Association of Independent Music, the Music Artists Coalition, the National Music Publishers Association, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Songwriters of North America, and SoundExchange issued the following response:

“Platform accountability is achievable and mutually beneficial for fans, music creators and digital distribution partners alike. As this report makes clear, the current system is broken – especially when it comes to so-called ‘user-upload platforms’. To succeed, platforms must be made accountable participants in the music ecosystem.

“But the good news is that many of these issues can be addressed by the big technology platforms who exploit music, including by applying already widely available technologies. Here are three things these platforms could do right now to begin to address the issues identified in the report:

  • Ensure that ‘take down’ means ‘stay down.’ User-upload platforms should put an end to the ‘whack-a-mole’ era by implementing meaningful, robust processes to ensure that once infringing content is taken down, the same infringing content does not immediately re-appear on the same service. To be an effective remedy, ‘take down’ must mean ‘stay down’.
  • Thwart Stream-Ripping Services. Industrial-scale piracy has not disappeared. Instead, fueled by technological change, it has morphed to new forms like ‘stream-ripping.’ On-demand video streaming services can prevent stream-ripping services from circumventing their protective systems by ensuring that their technological protection measures stay ahead of the stream-ripping services, and by aggressively monitoring when and how their technical protections are being breached. Furthermore, search engines should make every effort not to link to such services.
  • Permit Copyright Owners to Monitor Infringement of Their Own Works. Social media platforms should provide tools that allow copyright owners – regardless of their size – to monitor infringement of their own works and establish automated and scalable notice and takedown systems like many other user-upload platforms already have.”

The Artist Rights Alliance, which is leading artist mobilization efforts to reform section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act safe harbors, also released the following statement in response to the Copyright Office DMCA Notice and Takedown Report:

“When you cut through the bureaucratic caution and legalese, this report describes a simple, brutal truth: The tech monopolies are failing artists, songwriters, and music fans. And they couldn’t care less. Billion-dollar valuations of tech companies built on a foundation of shortchanging artists and songwriters dispel the myth that ‘there is no money in music.’ It’s time to put that money back in the hands of the artists and songwriters who invest their time, labor, heart, and soul into making music, and the people who believe in their dreams and support their careers.

“The bottom line:  tech platforms hold the keys to their own networks and could massively reduce the amount of online piracy and the crushing burden it imposes on working songwriters and musicians today if they wanted to. But they don’t. Because they make too much money off the broken system this report describes, selling ads alongside pirated copies of our work and scraping data from music fans everywhere they go online, from the most legitimate streaming services to the darkest corners of the web.

“If we could get some common decency from the Silicon Valley giants, we could work out solutions to many of these issues without changes to the law. The Judiciary Committees asked for this report and must now push tech companies to find these solutions and insist that independent creators have a seat at the table.

“If that fails, Congress must act.”

The Artist Rights Alliance (as ARA and under its predecessor name, the Content Creators Coalition) has led the charge to reform the DMCA for the last five years.

 

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About the Author

Hollabaugh, a staff writer at MusicRow magazine, has written for publications including American Profile, CMA Close Up, Nashville Arts And Entertainment, The Boot and Country Weekly. She has a Broadcast Journalism and Speech Communication degree from Texas Christian University, (go Horned Frogs), and welcomes your feedback or story ideas at [email protected]

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