Business News Digital Labels & Publishers

US indies reveal the pain of DMCA takedowns

By | Published on Thursday 13 April 2017

A survey of US indie labels has revealed the challenges for smaller rights owners posed by the takedown element of the pesky safe harbour.

The copyright safe harbour, of course, says that internet companies can’t be held liable if their customers use their services to infringe copyright, providing said net firms offer copyright owners with a takedown system via which they can request infringing files be removed. In the US, the safe harbour and the accompanying takedown requirements come from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Critics of the safe harbour argue that that system puts too much onus on the copyright owner to monitor the servers of big tech companies for the unlicensed distribution of their content. Especially when US copyright law doesn’t set the bar for the effectiveness of the safe harbour dwellers’ takedown systems particularly high.

Of the indie labels surveyed by the Future Of Music Coalition, 30% said that they didn’t actively search for infringements of their recordings online, with a lack of resource a commonly cited reason. Some also said that they had stopped monitoring the net for the illegal distribution of their content after previous attempts at having their music removed via DMCA takedown systems had proven ineffective.

Of the respondents, 65% said that when they did issue takedowns, it often took more than 24 hours for their content to actually be removed. Meanwhile 68% said that a big issue was that their music often quickly reappeared on platforms after an initial takedown request had been actioned.

The study was also backed by the American Association Of Independent Music, and has been submitted to the ongoing US Copyright Office review of the safe harbour. The music industry wants safe harbour protection taken away from certain kinds of services, and the obligations around takedown increased across the board.

A2IM boss Richard James Burgess said of the survey: “Thanks to the Future Of Music Coalition for compiling this revealing survey and to our label members for completing it. Sadly, the survey confirms that independent labels are significantly harmed by the unauthorised online use of their music and the unnecessarily tortuous notice and takedown process”.

FMC’s Dick Huey added: “Independent labels play a crucial role in the careers of artists of every genre; many are run by musicians themselves. As policymakers weigh changes to copyright law, the unique needs of the independent sector and all the diverse music communities they serve must be a central consideration”.



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