US Music Industry Welcomes SMART Copyright Bill

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By Chris Cooke | Posted on Monday, March 21, 2022

The music industry has welcomed proposed copyright reforms in the United States that would fundamentally increase the obligations of digital security platforms, primarily by empowering the country’s Copyright Office to identify and approve “standard technical measures” that platforms should use to stop distribution. of unlicensed copyrighted content.

The proposals are contained in the SMART Copyright Act — or the Strengthening Measures To Advance Rights Technologies Copyright Act if you prefer — which was drafted by Senators Thom Tillis and Patrick Leahy, both members of the Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee.

The two members of Congress say in a document outlining their proposals: “Online service providers made a deal with Congress 20 years ago – they wouldn’t have to pay for copyright theft facilitated by their systems if they worked with copyright owners to create effective standardized techniques to identify and protect against the dissemination of stolen content”.

“In enacting this Grand Deal,” they continue, “Congress clearly envisioned that this safe harbor immunity would incentivize platforms and rights holders to collaborate in crafting effective measures available to all on reasonable terms. to fight piracy, reduce transaction costs, speed up information sharing, and create a healthy Internet for all”.

But it didn’t work, they say. “Rather than incentivize collaboration on technologies to protect copyrighted works, the law actually prevents it because service providers cannot risk losing their precious safe harbors if an STM is created… The SMART Copyright Act of 2022 takes a measured approach to overcoming these barriers to collaboration and adoption.”

Launching the proposals last week, Tillis said: “In the fight against copyright theft, there is currently no consensus standard technical measure and this needs to be addressed. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will provide widely available anti-piracy measures and create a reliable and functioning internet for our creative communities.”

Meanwhile, Leahy added, “Nearly 25 years ago we enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a historic update to copyright laws in the age of the Internet. Since then, the Internet has changed considerably and, with it, the world of copyright. I am thrilled to be working alongside Senator Tillis with filmmakers, musicians, authors and artists of all persuasions, enlisting the help of online platforms, to combat online copyright theft. which robs these artists of the fruits of their creativity and hard work”.

“The technology exists to protect against this theft; we just need online platforms to use the technology,” he continued. “I work hard to make sure our artists get paid and that we can have legal access to their wonderful creations. I look forward to working with all areas of the copyright community to address the issue of copyright theft.”

The music industry, of course, has long been critical of copyright safe harbor and the way it is used by many digital platforms, calling for legal reforms in various countries, including under the EU Copyright Directive of 2019. So, unsurprisingly, representatives of the music community welcomed last week’s proposals from Tillis and Leahy.

Recording Industry Association Of America CEO Mitch Glazier said, “By encouraging cooperation between platforms and rightsholders, the SMART Copyright Act will encourage the development and adoption of effective tools to combat piracy. online while clarifying the platforms”.

“This thoughtful proposal builds on nearly a quarter century of real-world experience under the DMCA and promises a big step toward balancing the interests of creators and technology companies in the integrated commercial marketplace of ‘today,” he continued. “Congress wanted creators and platforms to work together to protect copyright and consumers and this proposal achieves that goal.”

Meanwhile, David Israelite, CEO of the US National Music Publishers Association, added: “For years, the DMCA has left songwriters and music publishers with little means to protect their work online. We commend Senators Tillis and Leahy for their leadership in strengthening technical measures to make giant technology platforms more accountable. This is an important first step towards tackling online piracy which continues to be a major threat to the livelihoods of our creative community.”

But, needless to say, tech industry representatives are less impressed with the proposals, with lobby group Re:Create Coalition calling Tillis and Leahy’s bill “very dangerous.”

The group’s executive director, Joshua Lamel, claimed that the SMART copyright law “will give the government the power to decide how Americans’ everyday digital products and services operate, creating harmful consequences far beyond the realm of of copyright law. From apps and the cloud to social media, blogs and video games, tech mandates will destroy online creativity, censor free speech online, undermine consumer choice and will hold back new startups”.

“This bill will lead to filtering warrants,” he then added, “undermining the very purpose of copyright to promote creativity and progress. We must not move forward”.

LEARN MORE ABOUT: Patrick Leahy | SMART Copyright Act | Thomas Tillis

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