The Music Industry Unites to Change Digital Copyright 678 words · 4 minute read

Ever wonder what it’d take for BMI, ASCAP, and SESEAC to all get in bed together? Or Katy Perry, Steven Tyler, and Lionel Richie?

No, not seasonal depression (though that can unite strange bedfellows) — these music industry movers & shakers are rallying together to defend your copyrights against theft.

This is when you say, “Thank you Mr. Richie.”

The Weathered Holes of the DMCA

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), nearly 400 individual artists, managers, songwriters, and music organizations are calling on Congress to reform federal laws to strengthen the music economy and create “a healthier, more stable music ecosystem for the next generation of singers, songwriters, and musicians.”

The music industry faults the DMCA for forcing creators of music to “police the entire Internet for instances of theft, placing an undue burden on these artists and unfairly favoring technology companies and rogue pirate sites,” says the RIAA.

Sounds familiar — how many times have you issued takedown notices that have essentially done nothing but waste some valuable minutes, if not hours, of your otherwise sunshine-filled day?

OK, life ain’t all sunshine and friendship, but it sure doesn’t help to have all that BS paperwork either, especially if your music continues to be pirated!

That’s why, on December 31, 2015, the Copyright Office announced its intent to reevaluate the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA. These provisions protect Internet service providers from third parties who might illegally share protected content online. The Copyright Office stated that Congress originally wrote the DMCA because of the necessity to protect copyrighted material from online infringement as the Internet continued to grow, but that no one could’ve predicted how much the Internet would impact daily life today.

We understand that legislators have it tough, trying to predict the legal needs of tomorrow’s citizenry and everything. However, that’s like watching Back to the Future II and thinking hoverboards totally won’t be a big deal one day — yes, they definitely will be, and so is the Internet!

That’s basically why the RIAA petition calls out the DMCA as “disturbingly out of date.”

Broken, Blind, & Toothless

Over 18 music organizations, in conjunction with artists and songwriters, have submitted a 97-page brief explaining the flaws of the DMCA and calling for reforms. The RIAA states that these flaws include a broken notice-and-takedown system, toothless repeat infringer policies, and incentives for services to turn a blind eye to infringement instead of preventing such widespread illegal practices.

“Twenty years later, [the DMCA] bears little resemblance to the expectations of the Music Community [and] has now become a dysfunctional relic, not suited to the realities of the 21st century,” says the participants of the petition.

Yea, that’s right — toothless! Their words, not ours.

On the other side of this issue, tech businesses and communities don’t necessarily agree with all of the attacks against the DMCA. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Internet Association, which represented companies like Facebook, Google, and Netflix, insist that the DMCA is working just as it should be. The Association claims that the DMCA “creates safe harbors for Internet platforms by ensuring they will not be liable for what their users do, so long as the platforms act responsibly.”

Basically, people can post whatever they want on the Internet, including illegal material, and the platforms they post on aren’t expected to do anything about it so long as they don’t blatantly encourage it.

So now Congress has the happy task (sarcasm) of recognizing the arguments from both sides. Will they side with tech companies who say that the DMCA facilitates the very nature of the Internet? Or will they recognize that, according to the RIAA, “DMCA reform is essential to bring about balance” because the fate of the music industry of today depends on it?

Stop by the Music Dealers offices during the ruling, we’ll be taking bets until the gavel falls.

Click here and here for more information regarding the move to reform the DMCA, and share your thoughts on the battle in the comments section below!