[JPL] RIAA: U.S. copyright law 'isn't working'

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Tue Aug 24 13:56:30 EDT 2010

ASPEN, Colo.--The Recording Industry Association of America said on 
Monday that current U.S. copyright law is so broken that it "isn't 
working" for content creators any longer.

RIAA President Cary Sherman said the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright 
Act contains loopholes that allow broadband providers and Web companies 
to turn a blind eye to customers' unlawful activities without suffering 
any legal consequences.

"The DMCA isn't working for content people at all," he said at the 
Technology Policy Institute's Aspen Forum 
<http://www.techpolicyinstitute.org/aspen2010/> here. "You cannot 
monitor all the infringements on the Internet. It's simply not possible. 
We don't have the ability to search all the places infringing content 
appears, such as cyberlockers like [file-hosting firm] RapidShare 

The complex--and controversial--1998 law grew out of years of 
negotiations with broadband providers, Internet companies, and content 
industries. One key section says companies are generally not liable for 
hosting copyright-infringing materials posted by their companies, as 
long as they follow certain removal procedures, once contacted by the 

In response to a question from CNET, Sherman said it may be necessary 
for the U.S. Congress to enact a new law formalizing agreements with 
intermediaries such as broadband providers, Web hosts, payment 
processors, and search engines.

The RIAA would strongly prefer informal agreements inked with 
intermediaries, Sherman said: "We're working on [discussions with 
broadband providers], and we'd like to extend that kind of 
relationship--not just to ISPs, but [also to] search engines, payment 
processors, advertisers."

But, Sherman said, "if legislation is an appropriate way to facilitate 
that kind of cooperation, fine."

Lance Kavanaugh, product counsel for YouTube, disagreed that copyright 
law is broken. "It's our view that the DMCA is functioning exactly the 
way Congress intended it to," he said.

The United States leads the world in the creation of innovative new Web 
ideas, Kavanaugh said, in part as a result of the compromises made when 
drafting that law: "There's legal plumbing to allow that to happen, to 
allow those small companies to innovate without [the] crushing fear of 
lawsuits, as long as they follow certain rules. Congress was prescient. 
They struck the right balance."

Last week, the RIAA and a dozen other music industry groups called on 
Google and Verizon to crack down on piracy 
<http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-20014211-38.html>, saying in a letter 
that "the current legal and regulatory regime is not working for 
America's creators."

Sherman acknowledged on Monday that YouTube is now doing a fine job of 
filtering and removing copyright-infringing videos. But, he said, Google 
"could stop filtering tomorrow and have no liability," as long as its 
YouTube subsidiary replied promptly to notifications.

And, he suggested, it could do far more: "If you enter in 'Beyonce MP3 
chances are, the first thing you'll see is illegal sites."

/Disclosure: McCullagh is married to a Google employee not involved with 
this topic./

*Update 6:20 p.m. PT:* During dinner this evening, Cary Sherman told me 
that his response to my question earlier Monday was not a call for new 
legislation. Instead, he said, the RIAA would like to see congressional 
action only if necessary to formalize a voluntary deal with partners 
such as broadband providers. But a broader law enacted /without/ their 
cooperation isn't what the RIAA wants, Sherman said.

Dr. Jazz
Dr. Jazz Operations
24270 Eastwood
Oak Park, MI  48237
(248) 542-7888
SKYPE:  drjazz99

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