In a five-minute video appeal posted February 21 and available for viewing at https://vimeo.com/204940925/ce417a2098, Nashville music producer T Bone Burnett recently urged the U. S. Copyright Office to close safe harbor loopholes in Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Current provisions in the DCMA require that music creators identify and request removal of pirated material from internet search engines and video services. A multitude of prominent artists including Sir Paul McCartney, Lionel Richie, Taylor Swift and Steven Tyler have previously called for copyright reform. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee will consider more stringent copyright legislation later this year.
A current dispute in copyright law for which public policy does not offer a simple solution is: who should be responsible for finding copyright infringing material on the Internet and enforcing the DMCA takedown provisions? This question is one of incentives, deterrence, and safe harbors as the DMCA has been written by Congress and interpreted by courts. The Copyright Office was recently accepting public comments on Section 512 of the Copyright Act which is likely what spurred T Bone’s recent remarks. T Bone’s remarks show that many individuals such as musicians and other creators of copyrightable content are not satisfied with the current system. T Bone wants changes in the statute to put more of the onus on internet service providers such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, and other providers of online user uploaded content. He believes that the current system of internet service monopolies acting within the safe harbor of the DMCA allows companies like Google to pay artificially low royalty fees to artists. The current system incentivizes copyright owners to patrol the Internet in a perpetual game of whack-a-mole to find infringing works, then notify the internet service of the infringing content through a takedown notice.