Since 1988, when the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was first enacted, the Internet’s base of users has drastically inflated from just 200 million to 3.5 billion, according to RouteNote. Without a doubt, the interactions, capabilities and platforms currently occupying the web are a far different breed than the landscape of the late ’80s. But despite the massive influx of users and nearly two decades of evolution, the copyright laws that rule over the music industry have remained static.
This is why the US Copyright Office’s official press release last Thursday came as such a welcome opportunity. For the very first time, the release said, the Office would be formally accepting any and all public comments relating to Section 512 of title 17, US Code, until April 1. In the short timespan between the release and April 1, Deadmau5, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, Billy Joel, Steve Tyler and many more international music stars included themselves in submitted petitions.
“While Congress understood that it would be essential to address online infringement as the internet continued to grow, it may have been difficult to anticipate the online world as we now know it, where each day users upload hundreds of millions of photos, videos and other items, and service providers receive over a million notices of alleged infringement. The growth of the internet has highlighted issues concerning section 512 that appear ripe for study.” – US Copyright Office
Together, the petitions demanded reform on a system that favors technology companies at the detriment of the creators. Hopefully, with enough of a collective response, the US Copyright Office will pursue legislation that more fairly balances the scales towards the artists.
“Among other issues, the Office will consider the costs and burdens of the notice-and-takedown process on large- and small-scale copyright owners, online service providers, and the general public. The Office will also review how successfully section 512 addresses online infringement and protects against improper takedown notices.” – US Copyright Office
An excerpt from one petition in particular most accurately sums up the sentiment behind those looking for a change in policy.
“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. Music consumption has skyrocketed, by the monies generated by individual writers and artists for that consumption has plummeted. The growth and support of technology companies should not be at the expense of artists and songwriters.”