Songwriters Lobby Congress to Drop Safe Harbor Provisions from the DMCA

Published: June 21, 2016 10:07 PM /


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Big names in the music industry have signed an open letter to Congress which demands reform of the DMCA. Their issue is with the safe harbor provision of the law which prevents sites like YouTube from being held liable for copyright infringing content that is uploaded by users as long as it is removed upon notification. The letter carries the support of the RIAA as well as major record labels, but it also has the backing of hundreds of bands and individual songwriters. Some of the individuals supporting the letter include Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Elton John, and Slash. Some of the bands supporting the letter include U2, deadmau5, Pearl Jam, Rush and Linkin Park.

The introductory paragraph states the reason for writing the letter and raises the concern that songwriters and musicians simply won't be able to earn a living in the future. It says, "we are writing to express our concern about the ability of the next generation of creators to earn a living. The existing laws threaten the continued viability of songwriters and recording artists to survive from the creation of music." The letter also slams the DMCA as being, "technologically out-of-date compared to the era in which we live."

The letter claims that the DMCA has allowed tech companies to rake in money, while songwriters are denied their fair share. It states, "It has allowed major tech companies to grow and generate huge profits by creating ease of use for consumers to carry almost every recorded song in history in their pocket via a smartphone, while songwriters' and artists' earnings continue to diminish." It goes on to say, "The tech companies who benefit from the DMCA today were not the intended protectorate when it was signed into law nearly two decades ago."

The letter argues that the current system of sending takedown is too much work for artists. It states, "It’s impossible for tens of thousands of individual songwriters and artists to muster the resources necessary to comply with its application." The letter ends by asking for, "sensible reform that balances the interests of creators with the interests of the companies who exploit music for their financial enrichment. It’s only then that consumers will truly benefit."

Do you agree with the music industry about the changes that need to be made to the DMCA? Leave your comments below.

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I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.