Press Release Copyright Reform

Meredith Rose to Testify Before Senate Judiciary Committee On the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

June 2, 2020 , , , , ,
newspaper

Public Knowledge Policy Counsel Meredith Rose will testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property today at 2:30 p.m. Her testimony in the hearing, “Is the DMCA’s Notice-and-Takedown System Working in the 21st Century?,” will warn Congress not to reduce the debate on Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to “Big Tech” vs “Big Entertainment” — jeopardizing internet users in the process.

Section 512 of the DMCA shields both online content and internet service providers, along with any other online service or digital platform, from liability for copyright infringement committed by users, provided they follow certain technical requirements. 

The testimony argues that any discussion on “rebalancing” Section 512 should keep our nation’s more than 229 million internet users at front of mind. As the testimony explains, terminating an individual’s broadband access because of a suspected copyright infringement during a pandemic “would cut off households from not just copyrighted content, but from everything.”

The following is an excerpt from the testimony:

“This is not about content versus tech. In the 22 years since Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, copyright policy has fallen victim to a dangerous, reductionist narrative that it is a two-sided, profit-driven war between major entertainment industries and multibillion-dollar technology platforms… However you choose to define these two strawmen, they are vastly outnumbered by the 229 million Americans — people who use the internet as more than just a copyrighted content delivery mechanism — going about their lives online. Every law that governs individuals’ use of and access to the internet affects all of us.

“The DMCA’s notice-and-takedown provisions are extraordinarily powerful tools with a documented history of weaponization. In the absence of meaningful statutory safeguards, platforms have stepped in to monitor for common errors, be they born from anticompetitive behavior, a misunderstanding of copyright, or merely mistakes in automated enforcement monitoring. None of this diminishes the difficulty faced by artists attempting to police the use of their copyrighted content online; however, we must acknowledge the enormous power of these takedown notices, their documented history of misuse, and the profound effect of that misuse on lawful speech. Asking for faster, more powerful notices with fewer safeguards is akin to throwing aside a tank and asking for a nuke.

“Two hundred and twenty-nine million American adults live their lives online under the shadow cast by Section 512. This push for reform, which would be difficult in a good year, comes at a time when we are all attempting to navigate uncharted waters. Whatever the risks, whatever the rewards, we cannot be reckless in our approach. Congress must acknowledge that this debate is not happening in a vacuum, and reject the reduction of stakeholders down to the strawmen of ‘Big Tech’ and ‘Content.’ Broadband access, algorithmic governance, and economic incentive structures all impact Americans’ ability to speak online. In a moment of massive social change, we must not take that for granted.”

You may view our testimony for more information.