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Copyright Office Says Safe Harbor System ‘Unbalanced,’ Industry Points to Big Tech to Fix

The U.S. Copyright Office has released the results of its multiyear study of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Section 512 of the Copyright Act, concluding that the law’s safe harbor system today is “unbalanced,” calling on Congress to fix it, according to a recent report in All Access. But industry organizations from both label and artist sides have charged that big tech platforms should and can make changes to address the problems.

The report said the implementation of the rules is “out of sync with Congress’ original intent,” citing areas of trouble being eligibility qualifications; repeat infringer policies; knowledge requirement standards; takedown notice specificity; non-standard notice requirements; subpoenas; and injunctions. However, the Office did not recommend any wholesale changes to the provision and has asked Congress to instead consider legislation to fix the problem, suggesting that  Twittter, Facebook and other platforms be required to make their policies for terminating repeat infringers public instead of internal.

Music industry organizations responded “many of these issues can be addressed by the big technology platforms who exploit music, including by applying already widely available technologies.”

“Platform accountability is achievable and mutually beneficial for fans, music creators and digital distribution partners alike. As this report makes clear, the current system is broken — especially when it comes to so-called ‘user-upload platforms’. To succeed, platforms must be made accountable participants in the music ecosystem,” said a mutual statement by the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), Music Artist Coalition (MAC), National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA), Songwriters of North America (SONA) and SoundExchange.

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