In 2020, the Senate subcommittee on intellectual property held a series of hearings on the effectiveness of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). And while many groups, including EFF, presented evidence that copyright enforcement hurts online expression, the draft bill released in December largely disregards those concerns.
The draft bill is called the Digital Copyright Act (DCA). It does a number of things, but for creators the biggest danger is its call for filters.
While the DCA does not mention “filters” by name, it has many places where the intent is clear. One is that the current system—which does not require filters, just that a specific upload be removed after a valid notice is received—be replaced with what proponents insist on calling “notice-and-staydown.” That means that once a notice has been sent, the service has a continuing responsibility to make sure nothing like the video taken down goes up. Filters are theonly realistic way to do that.
The bill also calls for the development of best practices and “standard technical measures” to fight infringement. Best practices could mean anything, including filters, and in order to get the protections of the DCA, services would have to adhere to them. The definition of “standard technical measures” involves a requirement that all services allow such things to function on their services. So if a filter is deemed a standard technical measure by the Copyright Office, all online services must be able to run it in order to claim protection.
That will cement not only the power of a few music labels, movie studios, and other media gatekeepers, but the power of the few tech companies that can afford such measures.
When filters are used, we’ve seen musicians’ livefeeds shut down for playing music in the public domain, companies accidentally claiming infringement by themselves and having their videos removed, and too-many-to-count creators forced to re-edit their videos just to get them online. This bill would make that all worse.
Senator Thom Tillis, the author of the draft, is accepting comments on it until March 5th. He has claimed that it reflects the digital world we now live in, compared to the one of the DMCA. He is wrong. The digital world we live in means that Internet users, creators, and copyright holders overlap. It means that Hollywood does not represent the best interests of all, or even most, creators.
We want to show Tillis, and the rest of Congress, that being on the side of creators does not mean more draconian copyright enforcement. That there is a whole group of creators—and copyright holders—who have experienced harm under filters and strongly oppose adding more.
By signing this letter, you are calling on Congress to recognize the value of Internet creators and the harm filters cause. You are saying that you want a future where we can all make and share things, not one where creative expression is in the hands of a few labels, studios, or tech companies.
Source: EFF; Creators: Stand Up Against New, Draconian Copyright Rules Get involved: https://act.eff.org/