September 25, 2022

Copyright holders look for an antipiracy DMCA upgrade

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LBy Andrew Ramonas, Corporate Counsel

As policymakers in Washington, D.C., consider ways to better combat online piracy, NBCUniversal Inc. and other copyright holders gathered on Thursday to discuss the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and called for flexible solutions to protect their content.

Representatives of the Comcast Corp. subsidiary, along with Copyright Alliance, Artists Rights Society and other organizations, said a single approach to improving the current system under the 1998 copyright law wouldn’t work for every content provider and Internet business. NBCUniversal Vice President David Greene, Copyright Alliance CEO Sandra Aistars and Artists Rights Society advocate Bruce Lehman offered their opinions as part of a forum hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force. The group is looking at ways to reform the process for removing infringing online content under the DMCA.

Aistars said policymakers must be cognizant of the differences between the online infringement of art and written work, for example. And Lehman noted a copyright enforcement mechanism that might work well for a large company might not help members of his group, which includes artists who identify themselves as sole proprietors.

“We can’t really have a one-size-fits-all system because there are huge differences in various categories of stakeholders,” said Lehman, a former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office commissioner.

Greene also said a common notice system to alert online businesses of infringement might have problems.

“There may be a particular notice that works very well for [Internet service providers], but that notice may not work for search engines, and that kind of notice might not work for cloud services,” he said.

Technology industry representatives offered their thoughts on fighting online piracy, too.

Fred von Lohmann, legal director for copyright at Google Inc., said his company has worked to standardize notification forms for copyright infringement, helping it better address copyright violations.

“I think I speak for many service providers when I say getting us out of a world where we receive emails and dozens or hundreds of different forms with attachments and potentially dozens of different formats, that has yielded huge efficiency gains and improvements in turnaround time,” he said.

The forum came out of the Commerce Department’s green paper, “Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy” [PDF]. The July 2013 report recommended tackling issues that include the operation of the DMCA notice and takedown system for infringing online content, the role of government in online licensing and the legal framework for making remixes.

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