×

Creators and Tech Companies: Let’s Fix The DMCA Together (Guest Column)

Whether it’s two-part harmony or a 100-member orchestra, some of the greatest music happens when people come together.

Policymaking works the same way.  Last year, music and tech came together to support the Music Modernization Act (MMA) – a powerful new law that guarantees fair pay for legacy artists on digital radio, boosts royalties for songwriters, and updates the music publishing system for the digital age.  Creators and tech companies haven’t always been “all for one, and one for all,” but we realized we needed to link arms to get results.

Now there’s a new opportunity to build on that success.  The U.S. Copyright Office will soon release its much-anticipated study on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s “safe harbor” provisions – rules put in place over 20 years ago to deal with the problem of online piracy.  The report will raise tough issues – and creators and tech will have to decide: do we retreat to our industry corners or join forces once again and try to get something meaningful done?  To me, the choice is as obvious as it was for Jake and Elwood: we should be getting the MMA band back together.

There’s no question the DMCA hasn’t kept up with the times.  It was intended to foster cooperation between internet platforms (at the time this meant bulletin boards and services like AOL) and the creative industry to prevent piracy of creative works in exchange for legal immunity.  But piracy remains a major issue and has evolved into new forms.

In a twisted way, the DMCA was interpreted in a way that discouraged cooperation between creators and tech platforms by removing incentives to do so.  But in the wake of rising fears over tech platforms’ impact on speech, politics, safety and culture, global pressure on platforms to act responsibly to create a healthier online environment has never been more intense.  Absent real voluntary change, the pressure on government to more powerfully regulate Internet companies is only going to increase.

To me, the idea that creators and tech would somehow be at odds in this space has never made much sense.  The public’s thirst for creative works is a major driver of revenue and success for internet companies.  Today, seven out of ten of the biggest accounts on Twitter and nine out of the top ten videos on YouTube are music creators.  A smartphone without music or video might as well have a rotary dial.

Likewise, we need tech – streaming now accounts for 75% of recorded music revenues in the U.S.  And social media has played an indispensable role in strengthening the bond between artists and their fans.

There are now plenty of incentives for all of us to work together to sustain and grow the entire ecosystem going forward.  Now is the time for us to come together to fix the DMCA – and it doesn’t have to require legislation.

The DMCA already allows creators and tech providers to negotiate industry standards to protect creative works, but that mechanism has been mostly dormant since the law’s passage.  If we reach consensus, it can be immediately implemented under existing law.  That’s invaluable in a world where technology changes faster than the law can keep up.

Our success at solving problems together is the best way to give Congress the security of knowing we’ve arrived at well-considered, long-term solutions.  And no doubt policymakers will play a vital role in encouraging and expecting all of us to find a way forward. If we don’t, a change in the law that will lag behind technology and lead to litigation is inevitable.

Fixing the DMCA for the modern age will require leadership from both the creative and tech communities – who each have much to gain from action and much to lose if we sit back or spiral into conflict.

To their credit, the Internet Association has been open to discussing solutions.  So let’s do it.  Consider this an invitation.  In a summer where “Harmony Hall” is topping the charts and the Avengers are assembling one last time, what are we waiting for?

More Digital

  • BritBox to Roll Out in the

    'Downton Abbey' and 'The Office' Heading to BritBox as Streamer Unveils U.K. Launch

    British broadcasters the BBC and ITV have formally agreed to launch their joint streaming service, BritBox, in the U.K. in the fourth quarter of 2019. It will be priced at £5.99 ($7.50) per month, making it the same price as the cheapest Netflix subscription in the U.K. ITV will control BritBox, holding a 90% stake. [...]

  • Vobile - ZEFR acquisition - Yangbin

    Zefr Sells Its Copyright-Flagging and YouTube Channel-Management Businesses to Vobile for $90 Million

    Vobile Group, a video protection and measurement company, announced a deal to acquire Zefr’s RightsID copyright-management and ChannelID YouTube channel-management businesses for about $90 million. According to the companies, Zefr’s RightsID and ChannelID together generated over $40 million in revenue in 2018 and were profitable. The deal stands to more than triple the revenue for [...]

  • Justin Connolly

    Disney Merges All Media Sales and TV Channel Distribution Under Justin Connolly

    Disney promoted longtime ESPN exec Justin Connolly to the new role of president, media distribution, overseeing a single organization that combines all of the company’s media sales and TV channel distribution operations. Connolly previously served as EVP, affiliate sales and marketing, Disney and ESPN Media Networks. Based in New York, he will report to Kevin [...]

  • NASA - International Space Station

    Hulu Is Getting NASA TV in Time for the Moon Landing Anniversary

    Hulu’s live TV service is getting NASA TV just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. In addition to a live feed, which is available only to subscribers of Hulu’s live TV tier, Hulu is also gaining access to select NASA TV series on demand. The live TV deal was announced [...]

  • iheartmedia logo

    iHeartMedia Stock Drops in NASDAQ Debut

    Shares of iHeartMedia, the U.S.’s biggest radio network, fell as much as 7% after they commenced trading Thursday on the NASDAQ Global Select Market, and ended the day down around 3%. Last month, after exiting a year-long bankruptcy reorg, iHeartMedia announced it was approved for listing on NASDAQ, instead of pursuing an IPO. The company’s [...]

  • iHeartMedia-Pride-Media-TheOutcast-Logo

    iHeartMedia, Pride Media to Co-Produce Slate of LGBTQ+ Podcasts

    iHeartMedia is teaming with Pride Media, the media company whose brands include Out, The Advocate and Pride, to co-produce a slate of LGBTQ+ podcasts in 2019-20. The partnership will kick off with “The Outcast,” an iHeartRadio original podcast co-produced with Out Magazine. Hosted by Out Magazine deputy editor Fran Tirado, the weekly podcast will explore [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content