[Editor Charlie sez: So much for the “DMCA license”. This case reprises the highly successful case against Cox Communications won by BMG Rights relying on work done by Rightscorp. (Rightscorp is also helping songwriters by deciphering the mass “address unknown” filings of tens of millions of notices with the Copyright Office.)]
The RIAA is suing the San Marcos, Texas-based ISP Grande Communications for copyright infringement on behalf of its member companies, in a case that potentially could help define how Internet services must deal with consumers who repeatedly download music and other copyrighted works illegally.
The lawsuit, filed today in an Austin, Texas, district court, accuses Grande of “refusing to take meaningful action against repeat infringers” – users who repeatedly downloaded music illegally over BitTorrent networks.
Generally, ISPs operate under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which gives them “safe harbor” from liability for copyright infringement committed by their users. (The users themselves can still be liable.) But a provision in the 1998 law requires digital services that operate under the safe harbor to implement “a policy that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscribers and account holders of the service provider’s system or network who are repeat infringers.”
Such “repeat infringer” policies have received more attention in the last decade, as copyright holders have tried to define the limits of the safe harbor. The issue has been especially important since December 2015, when a jury delivered a $25 million verdict in favor of BMG against Cox Communications, on the grounds that Cox didn’t qualify for safe harbor because its repeat infringer policy was inadequately implemented. Cox is appealing the verdict.
The well-known royalty deadbeat Vimeo is screwing artists over yet again. This time it’s pre-72 artists whose recordings the deadbeat wants to exploit on a “DMCA license” when the same courts deny justice to those very artists for the performance of their recordings by these very deadbeats.
Remember, the loophole these deadbeats exploit is the lack of federal copyright protection for sound recordings made prior to February 15, 1972, a totally arbitrary date. In 1998 the Congress passed the horrendous DMCA safe harbor that The Man 2.0 lobbied for to allow them to claim they have no knowledge that they are infringing–despite the fact that their entire business is built on stealing other people’s music.
At the same time, the Congress finished up the work it started in 1995 to establish a full-blown royalty system for the performance of sound recordings, paying hundreds of millions to recording artist who were previously ripped off. But–seizing an opportunity to save 30 pieces of silver, Sirius and Pandora fought to keep from paying pre-72 artists because The Turtles sued. While nobody ever thought Sirius cared about anything but money, this is why Pandora’s pro-artist bullshit is bullshit, leading to the musical question, how do you sleep at night?
So are you catching the theme here? The courts protect Big Tech in both cases. First, by allowing them safe harbor protection under the “DMCA license” according to the Supreme Court. Is it any accident that Lessig pal Justice Elena Kagan is on the court?
Second, by protecting them from paying on pre-72 recordings in New York where the Vimeo case was filed.
U.S. courts just want to crush the old guys and dead cats at every opportunity.
The Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal from record companies that want to pursue copyright infringement claims against music site Vimeo for hosting unauthorized recordings from the Beatles, Elvis Presley and other classic artists.
The justices on Monday left in place a federal appeals court ruling that said websites are protected from liability even for older music recorded before 1972.
Comments for the U.S. Copyright Office study of the “safe harbors” of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) were due February 21, and dozens of media and technology companies and organizations dutifully submitted filings. In what may be a first, however, a few dozen musicians also signed a video message that was submitted to the government on their behalf.
Unlike most such filings, which tend to consist of pages of anecdotes and arguments, the video — titled “YouTube Can Do Better” — couldn’t be much simpler. Over a half-minute of silence, white letters against a black background spell out “Dear U.S. Copyright Office,” then the names of the few dozen acts who endorsed the message, then “YouTube Can Do Better.” It doesn’t directly mention the Copyright Office’s study of the DMCA safe harbors. The list of acts is wide-ranging, including The Black Keys, Cee Lo Green, Evanescence, John Mellencamp, Rush, T Bone Burnett, and many more.
The U.S. Copyright Office has invited the public to comment on potential reforms of the DMCA “safe harbors” and the incomparable T-Bone Burnett delivered this video version of his insightful comments on DMCA abuse. (See also Billboard article on T-Bone’s comment and my 2006 post on MTP, The DMCA is Not An Alibi.) It is important […]
Read the fine print: “Of the 1,007,741,143 takedown requests received, 908,237,861 were removed from search results.” So Google did not remove 99,503,282 infringing links.
I wonder how much traffic Google derives from a billion takedowns? Or the 99,503,282 they don’t take down? This is how Google messages their pathetic record on piracy…”but we took down 90%!” Don’t be deceived by Google duplicity.
As the biggest provider of search results on the Internet, Google receives a constant barrage of requests to remove content from its results. Some of those requests come from governments, but the majority are submitted by copyright owners very keen to stop their work from being pirated.
First of all–it should be noted that Mr. Shapiro’s post falls into that category of public statements that I’d call a “non-denial denial”.
It’s also important to note that Mr. Shapiro’s comment is all about Washington, lobbyists, who did what to whom, settling old scores among the coastal elites, who owns who, who paid off who to do what, and so on. The funniest line in his post was that Google isn’t a bully. Now that is hysterical for those who have dealt with YouTube or tried to get anything from a jihadi recruitment video to “Banging Up for Dummies” taken down from any Google property. Almost as funny as blaming the Sony hack on North Korea.
I fear that it is necessary to point out to Mr. Shapiro that this blog is Artist Rights Watch, not Lobbyist Rights Watch, or Let’s Watch the Lobbyists. This may come as a shock to someone like Mr. Shapiro who’s been at this for so long, but it is very, very likely that anyone who reads this blog neither has any idea who he is nor cares very much.
If our readers know of the Consumer Electronics Association, it’s likely that they know the organization from its membership in the MIC Coalition.
The MIC Coalition is, of course, the multi-trillion dollar lobbyists who are trying to screw what’s left of the songwriting community and stop artists from being paid fairly for radio airplay.
Or they might know the Consumer Electronics Association from its funding of the group Fight for the Future, which conducted a rather shadowy campaign against the Copyright Office, including making statements at odds with the facts in fundraising emails.
That statement in the box? It never happened.
Here’s an excerpt from Schedule B of the 2014 tax return for Center for Rights in Action which is parent to Fight for the Future:
And then there was the classic line from David Lowery addressed to Michael Petricone (Mr. Shapiro’s right hand at CEA) when both were on a panel at the Future of Music Coalition Summit Poobahery in Washington regarding CEA’s support of the ill-fated Internet Radio Fairness Act: “Stop making shit up, man!”
Those are probably the ways that the vast majority of people who read this blog would know of the Consumer Electronics Association.
It would be well for Mr. Shapiro to observe that 2016 has seen the future–more artists have stopped looking to lobbyists to solve their problems. Those lawsuits against Spotify, Rhapsody, Sirius XM, Pandora and even the U.S. Department of Justice? All brought by individual creators with some courageous lawyers who are willing to take a chance–because of the statutory damages and attorneys fees provisions of the Copyright Act without which those creators would have to take yet more bullying from Mr. Shapiro and his members, Google or otherwise.
So hopefully Mr. Shapiro will understand my reaction to this statement in his comment:
[T]hankfully we won many battles as new forms of technology created huge new opportunities for our members…and for content creators.
If the last 15 years of Mr. Shapiro’s travails are what constitutes his “help” in fighting “battles”, if what we have to show for his “winning” these “battles” is the absolute skewering of songwriters, artists, authors, record producers, film makers, and everyone who works in these endeavors–not to mention the biggest income transfer in commercial history from creators to new boss tech companies as well as the commoditization of art and artists–I have one reaction that I think will be shared by “content creators” who read this blog.
I don’t know David Benjamin (Universal Music), but he’s a hero to all songwriters. Making the billionaire robber barons at Facebook pay a licensing fee for use of songwriters’ songs is only fair. Every other business that uses music, including websites, television stations, radio stations and even YouTube pay for some kind of license. It’s […]