RIAA Takes on DMCA as Examination Looms

Yep.  I’ll throw myself on this grenade.  No problem.  Let me say at the outset that anyone who wants to bring up the RIAA lawsuits of the aughts in context to this post can just stifle the instinct because you’re being silly.  You might as well say your scorecard on American civil liberties stops with the Trail of Tears.  Let’s talk reality in 2013, shall we?  Reality as in 20 million links to illegal songs sent to Google under the DMCA, inspiring Brad Buckles of the RIAA reasonably to ask in this post, ‘Is this how it’s supposed to work?  And those 20 million notices do precisely nothing to stem the flood of illegal downloading that has unquestionably had a disastrous effect across the recording industry.

Buckles writes:

“We are using a bucket to deal with an ocean of illegal downloading.  Under a controversial interpretation by search engines, takedown notices must be directed at specific links to specific sound recordings and do nothing to stop the same files from being reposted as fast as they are removed.”

The post is very fair-minded in its request for a rational review of DMCA, and Buckles is clear to point out that he seeks collaboration with Google and other internet companies in addressing the flaws in notice and takedown provision.  There is a world of difference between actual innovation, and mass exploitation of honest work, and if Google & Friends really can’t tell the difference we better ask as a society how much of the future we want them to own. The question is whether or not we’ll see any good-faith effort on the part of internet industry leaders in this regard, or will the conversation remain mired in ambiguous theories about “new business models” and “how the entertainment industries have to adapt?” There is no industry on earth that can adapt to being continuously hijacked.

© 2013, David Newhoff. All rights reserved.

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  • Thank you.

    Yes, the DMCA (not copyright) is broken. It’s been used as a shield against prosecution to get away with highway robbery; instead of its original purpose of being a convenient way to keep the courts uncluttered and resolve most disputes civilly and quickly. Entire illegal business segments (thinly veiled organized crime syndicates) have sprouted from its failure. If the copyright act is to be overhauled, this is first on the list of things to fix.

  • Minor factual niggle: the RIAA lawsuits happened Noughties – recall that Napster didn’t launch until 1999.

  • I’ll be monitoring this, but I highly doubt Congress will be able to fix copyright in any way that would re-enable the traditional scarcity-based business models in the media industry or bring it back to its former “glory”. If they could it would have happened long ago, back when Big Content had more political currency to make unilateral changes to the legal system.

    • I think you’ll find that the current situation is more the result of oblivious optimism, elsewhere known as stupidity.

      The facts of the matter are that most people bought into the myth of the internet as this huge vehicle to prosperity and are now starting to wake up and take serious stock of where we are – and what the online businesses are doing. Even a cursory examination will demonstrate that these companies have been given a massive free ride and have used it to line their pockets to an obscene degree, whilst giving very little back. They can’t even talk about creating jobs and the standard big-business excuses, ‘coz they don’t create many jobs at all.

      In other words, Big Content (as if there ever was such a thing) doesn’t need very much political currency, because the opponents are assholes – and everyone’s beginning to see that they’re assholes.

      • I don’t think that’s what we’ve been seeing so far from this (early still, I know). Virtually all the concrete proposed changes I’ve seen aim to weaken copyright law. Which is probably why so far I’ve not seen much positive commentary about the copyright reform as it stands.

        Of course Congress doesn’t have to take that direction. Generally speaking they are quite predictable though – they don’t invite people they don’t want to listen to. Even if your thing is the “right thing” (putting it out there, I don’t agree), Congresspeople are more interested in who’s financing their next campaign than anything else. Ironically, at this point you’d be more productive fighting alongside Lessig in his new war against corruption in DC.

      • As IP intensive industries (in and out of the entertainment industry) account for a little over 5 Trillion (with a T) dollars annum, making a Very large chunk of the US’s GDP (over 1/3rd), and employing over 27 million people, i seriously doubt they will throw out Copyright or any other IP rights anytime soon…

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