Washington — Internet users and other stakeholders have until Friday to file comments in response to questions from the Copyright Office on the “safe harbor” in Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) — one of the legal cornerstones that enables the provision of platforms for communication and commerce on the Internet.

Currently, under the DMCA, Internet sites are required to quickly remove material in response to allegations of infringement by copyright holders, rather than trying to determine on their own the relationships and contracts of musicians, the movie industry and others.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association told the Copyright Office in its comments that it supports attempts to improve the so-called notice and takedown rules that Internet companies now follow. The liability protections extended to Internet companies under the DMCA are important, and to maintain those protections, companies are already required to ensure the Copyright Office has current contact information, rendering this proposal unnecessary.

CCIA, which represents tech companies that depend both on copyright and fair use exceptions, has fought legal changes like SOPA/PIPA that would have required Internet companies to pre-censor users’ posts for copyright violations. The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:

“As we said in our comments, exposing these tens of thousands of companies to massive liability risks, merely to induce them to re-submit information that the Office already possesses, is a drastic response to a poorly documented problem.

“This proposed rule change could lead to more lawsuits against otherwise DMCA-compliant companies. The whole reason Congress enacted the DMCA was to foster cooperation and a quicker resolution to the problem — so that rightholders filed takedown notices with service providers rather than lawsuits.”

For more background information on the importance of the DMCA and the post-SOPA/PIPA threats to Internet freedom as the music industry tries to revive that issue, please see Matt Schruers’ DisCo blog post.

 

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