|Weekly News Digest
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EFF Looks at Companies' Tactics for Fighting Copyright Infringement
Katharine Trendacosta writes the following in “Why Companies Keep Folding to Copyright Pressure, Even If They Shouldn’t” for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF):
Online platforms that host user content are not liable for copyright infringement done by those users so long as they fulfill the obligations laid out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). One of those obligations is to give rightsholders an unprecedented ability to have speech removed from the internet, on demand, with a simple notice sent to a platform identifying the offending content. Another is that companies must have some policy to terminate the accounts of ‘repeat infringers.’
Not content with being able to remove content without a court order, the giant companies that hold the most profitable rights want platforms to do more than the law requires. They do not care that their demands result in other people’s speech being suppressed. Mostly, they want two things: automated filters, and to be paid. In fact, the letter sent to Twitter by [members of the U.S. House of Representatives] asks Twitter to add ‘content protection technology’—for free—and heavily implies that the just course is for Twitter to enter into expensive licensing agreements with [music] labels.
Make no mistake, artists deserve to be paid for their work. However, the complaints that the … record labels make about platforms are less about what individual artists make, and more about labels’ control. …
Google set the worst precedent possible in this regard. Trying to avoid a fight with major rightsholders, Google voluntarily created Content ID. Content ID is an automated filter that scans uploads to see if any part—even just a few seconds—of the upload matches the copyrighted material in its database. A match can result in either a user’s video being blocked, or monetized for the claiming rightsholder. … While any creator has the right to use copyrighted material without paying rightsholders in circumstances where fair use applies, Content ID routinely diverts money away from creators like these to rightsholders in the name of policing infringement.
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