RIAA Boss Says That The DMCA 'Isn't Working' Any More
from the um..-wow. dept
RIAA President Cary Sherman is really doing a stunning job every time he opens his mouth this week. First, as noted earlier, he may have hurt the RIAA’s chances in a Supreme Court case by directly stating the exact opposite of the RIAA’s position in that case. Then, he got on stage at a “tech policy” shindig in Aspen Colorado, and said (apparently with a straight face) that “the DMCA isn’t working for content people at all.” Wow.
Now, this deserves some background. The key parts of the DMCA were almost entirely drafted due to pressures from the RIAA, who wanted this law passed badly. The RIAA has been one of the biggest supporters of the DMCA all along. The one tiny bit they don’t like was the part put in at the request of service providers to get them to stop fighting the DMCA: a basic safe harbor that makes it clear that liability should only be applied to individuals or organizations who actually infringe on copyrights, not service providers whose tools are used by third parties. This isn’t some revolutionary idea. It’s basic common sense application of liability on the party that actually breaks the law. Even that was severely tilted in the RIAA’s favor by requiring a notice-and-takedown provision, that almost certainly violates the First Amendment.
But much of the DMCA was an RIAA wishlist of the absurd — such as the anti-circumvention clause. In fact, for years, tech companies warned about problems with the DMCA. There were a few attempts by Rep. Rick Boucher to reform the DMCA to get rid of the serious problems with it that totally favored the RIAA in often ridiculous ways, but the entertainment industry vigorously fought against these changes.
However, nothing ever came of that, and Boucher hasn’t pushed to reform the DMCA in quite a few years at this point. Last I heard, the feeling was that both the technology folks and the entertainment industry folks had decided that reopening the DMCA was a can of worms that was far too dangerous. Tech companies feared losing the safe harbor protections, while the entertainment industry feared losing pretty much anything, such as some of the anti-circumvention clauses.
However, with the entertainment industry having such a “good friend” in Joe Biden, it apparently feels confident enough to try to reopen the DMCA to get rid of the one part it never liked. This is really quite stunning. The DMCA was a bill that was designed for the RIAA. It had one tiny safe harbor, and for Sherman to now attack that is a sickening attempt to twist the DMCA even further in favor of one industry, against everyone’s best interests.
Even worse, his rationale for this is just laughable:
“You cannot monitor all the infringements on the Internet. It’s simply not possible. We don’t have the ability to search all the places infringing content appears, such as cyberlockers like [file-hosting firm] RapidShare.”
Read that again. So because the RIAA is unable to monitor, others should be forced to do it for them, or face giant fines. Sherman admits that it’s impossible to monitor, but in the same breath demands laws that will punish other companies for failing to do the impossible, while taking all of the responsibility off of the companies he represents. To make such a statement takes such incredible guts that it’s amazing the room didn’t burst out in laughter.
Of course, what this is really about is that Sherman and the RIAA are posturing for a three strikes law in the US. For two years now, they’ve tried (and failed) to get ISPs to agree to three strikes in the US. So, Sherman is kicking off a campaign to try to pressure ISPs to agree… or to get politicians to introduce a bill.