What the RIAA and 14 other groups are telling the US Copyright Office is simple: The 19-year-old Digital Millennium Copyright Act isn’t working. They say the process of granting legal immunity—or “safe harbor”—to ISPs who “expeditiously” remove copyrighted content upon notice of the rights holder needs to be supplanted with fresh piracy controls. That’s because, they say, the process creates a so-called “endless game of whack-a-mole” in which an ISP will remove pirated content only to see it instantaneously reappear at the push of a button by a copyright scofflaw. This requires the rights holder to send a new takedown notice—often again and again.
This story has been like watching a train wreck in slow motion. In 2011 (yes, over 5 years ago), the Copyright Office announced that it was going to transition the designation of DMCA safe harbor agents from paper to electronic. The current paper-based system has been archaic since the beginning, so creating an electronic database is long overdue.
However, the transition raised the question of what would happen to the legacy registrations. Obviously the Copyright Office could scan them and feed them into the new electronic database, but that would cost some money (the Final Rule complains about the cost but doesn’t provide a number). Plus, the Copyright Office said that its initial interim rules indicated that reregistration would be required. So the Copyright Office proposed requiring all existing registrants to reregister or THEY WILL LOSE THE DMCA SAFE HARBOR.
If that isn’t troubling enough, the Copyright Office also proposed to require all registrants to re-register every 2 years–again at the peril of losing the DMCA Safe Harbor if the sites fail to do so.
The song, “Heathens,” was originally uploaded on June 15 to the file-sharing site Dropfile. That same day, the file landed on Reddit. According to a lawsuit (PDF) in New York State Supreme Court, the file was posted to the Twenty One Pilots subreddit with the title “[Leak] New Song – ‘Heathens’ The Poster submitted the link under the username “twentyoneheathens,” according to Atlantic.
Atlantic and its subsidiary label, Fueled by Ramen, want the IP address of the Reddit leaker. The company said the file fell victim to “widespread distribution” on the Internet, so the company released the single June 16, a week ahead of schedule; the label also said the early release hindered a planned rollout on Spotify, iTunes, and other platforms. Atlantic says the leaker must be an Atlantic employee who was contractually obligated not to leak the track, which is featured in the movie Suicide Squad that debuted earlier this month.
The plaintiff’s vanity Google search results included the following snippet: “indecency with a child in Trial Court Cause N . . . Colin O’Kroley v Pringle.” The linked result (to Google Book’s indexing of Texas Advance Sheet–see image) contained a summary of the child indecency case preceding the listing for O’Kroley’s totally unrelated lawsuit. O’Kroley asserted that this search result snippet harmed him, so he demanded $19.2 trillion in damages (GOBOGH!). The trial court said no, citing Section 230. The appeals court, in a short but surprisingly published opinion, affirmed.
Soon, government lawyers will have to show up in court to defend those rules. Yesterday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit (PDF) claiming the parts of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that deal with copy protection and digital locks are unconstitutional.
Under the DMCA, any hacking or breaking of digital locks, often referred to as digital rights management or DRM, is a criminal act. That means modding a game console, hacking a car’s software, and copying a DVD are all acts that violate the law, no matter what the purpose. Those rules are encapsulated in Section 1201 of the DMCA, which was lobbied for by the entertainment industry and some large tech companies.