The US Copyright Office has issued a Notice of Inquiry seeking input on issues related to the DMCA safe harbors and the notice-and-takedown provisions. They are specifically looking for input from the perspectives of large- and small-scale copyright owners and online service providers. A copy of the notice can be found here. I plan to respond on behalf of DMLA. Individual members are free to file their own responses as well.
As background, the DMCA notice-and-takedown procedure was created by Congress in 1998 as a means by which copyright owners and representatives can address online infringement, and online service providers can limit their liability for third party conduct on the web; it was intended to help foster the growth of the internet. The process begins when a copyright owner gives an online service provider notice of specific infringing conduct, as well as certain additional information as required by Section 512(c)(3) of the Copyright Act. Following receipt of notice, the OSP must either comply with the takedown request and remove the infringing content from their website or submit a counter notification attesting to their rightful use of the allegedly infringing content. This process can, to a certain extent, be automated using software that searches for infringing uses. However, the fact that an OSP complies with a takedown request for one particular infringing use does not prevent additional infringing uses from appearing on the OSP’s website in the future. Each instance of infringement must be addressed by the notice-and-takedown process. This process has proven overwhelming for most content owners and has been likened to a game of whack a mole where as soon as you have infringing content taken down, it appears on another site so you are continuously in a cycle of sending takedown notices. Many content owners do not have the resources or staff to continually search the Internet for unauthorized uses of content.
In preparing my response, I’m seeking input from members. The notice has 30 specific issues that we can address. Of particular interest to the DMLA and its Members are the Copyright Office’s following issues:
- How has the safe harbor for internet service providers impacted the protection and value of copyrighted works, including licensing markets for such works? And have the safe harbors struck the correct balance between copyright owners and online service providers?
- How effective, efficient, and/or burdensome is the notice-and-takedown process for addressing online infringement?
- Does the notice-and-takedown process sufficiently address the reappearance of infringing material previously removed in response to a notice?
- Are there any existing or emerging “standard technical measures” that could or should apply to obtain the benefits of the section 512 safe harbors.(For example, should the OSPs work with image libraries in using image recognition technology to eliminate infringing works from their sites?
- What, if anything, should be done to address these concerns?
Please will free to send comments to me on these or any of the other issues addressed in the notice of inquiry. I plan to coordinate responses with the various other associations involved in the visual content community. The notice of inquiry must be submitted by March 21, 2016. If I could have responses by March 1, it would be greatly appreciated.
Nancy Wolff DMLA counsel (firstname.lastname@example.org)