US Copyright Office Asks For Public Comments On DMCA's Notice And Takedown
from the well,-this-ought-to-be-interesting dept
On New Year’s Eve, the US Copyright Office dropped a bit of a surprise, asking for public comment on the DMCA’s Section 512 safe harbor provisions — which are probably better known as the “notice and takedown” provisions:
The United States Copyright Office is undertaking a public study to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the DMCA safe harbor provisions contained in 17 U.S.C. 512. Among other issues, the Office will consider the costs and burdens of the notice-and-takedown process on large- and small-scale copyright owners, online service providers, and the general public. The Office will also review how successfully section 512 addresses online infringement and protects against improper takedown notices. To aid in this effort, and to provide thorough assistance to Congress, the Office is seeking public input on a number of key questions.
You can see the full Notice of Inquiry (also embedded below).
What comes out of this may certainly be interesting, but it’s not difficult to predict that there will be two huge piles of responses that are more or less diametrically opposed: a group of content creators who are obsessed with the fact that they have to send takedown notices and that their works still keep popping up will complain about all of this, and say that the notice and takedown process is too onerous for content creators, and that we should move instead to a world where platforms have to pro-actively monitor things, such as with a “notice and staydown” procedure. On the flip side, you’ll have plenty of people and internet platforms talking about how onerous things are from the other side: platforms are inundated with piles of requests, many of which are completely bogus, but which companies often feel compelled to take down to avoid liability. And end users face tons of censorship due to bogus and abusive takedowns.
The Copyright Office has historically come down on the side of copyright maximalists, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see that the end result of this process is them suggesting more liability and responsibilities for internet platforms — in part because they have absolutely no clue what a disaster that would be for content creators themselves. People who want to put more burdens on platforms think that this somehow helps content creators, but the opposite is true. It will mean fewer online platforms serving content creators, because the burdens will be too high. It will further entrench the large players and limit new upstarts, innovators and competitors.
If you decide to submit your own comments — and I suggest you do — I would hope that you focus on these “unintended” consequences of mucking with the system in the direction of further burdening these services that seem to be doing a pretty good job serving most content creators and internet users.