Happy Birthday DMCA (Watch Your Back, Safe Harbors)

October 28, 2011

On this day, in 1998, PL 105-304 became effective.  That makes the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) about the same age as blogs, 3 years older than Grokster, 6 years older than Facebook, 7 years older than YouTube, and 8 years older than Twitter.  The DMCA provides – among other things – immunity to Online Service Providers (OSPs) who meet certain conditions outlinded under 512(c) of the Copyright Act.  OSPs who respond expeditiously to statutory take-down notices fall within the safe harbor.  So, when Judge Stanton determined YouTube met these burdens, he granted YouTube’s summary judgment motion inViacom’s billion-dollar lawsuit (718 F.Supp.2d 514).

Now, however, two pending bills effectively provide content owners with an end-run around these safe harbors by creating an “expedited process for cracking down on rogue Internet sites by targeting the domain names associated with those sites through injunctive relief ” S. REP. 112-39.  Stemming massive piracy from abroad is clearly a stated-target (er, pretext?) of these bills.  So is jobs. Search protect-ip and china jobs in USPOLTRANS.   But,  the Electronic Frontier Foundation called the Stop Online Priracy Act (2011 CONG US HR 3261 – WL link) and the PROTECT-IP Act (2011 CONG US S 968 – WL link), “the worst piece of IP legislation we’ve seen in the last decade…”

Research References

BLOGSOD: Your RSS feed, if you still use one, might serve the purpose of finding straight talk on a hot button issue like this one.  Even so, I  like the Blogs on Demand service where I might run simple full-text searches and alerts.  Simply try, sopa, for example in the BLOGSOD database.

CR: Consumer groups are launching letter-writing campaigns.  Wondering whether your member of Congress stands for or against the legislation? It can be hard to tell.  But, additional co-sponsors are read into the Congressional Record.  Try this in the Congressional Record:

CO-SPONSOR /10 H.R.-3261 S-968 /s [your member of Congress here]