May 22, 2020
On May 21, 2020, the U.S. Copyright Office (the “Office”) released a nearly 200-page report (the “Report”) suggesting changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 512) (“DMCA”), which governs how online service providers (OSPs) police potential online copyright infringement. The report was the result of a multi-year study of the DMCA—the first comprehensive study by the Office on the DMCA’s operation—and was prepared to analyze whether the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions are successfully balancing the needs of OSPs and copyright holders, “particularly in light of the enormous changes that the internet has undergone in the last twenty-plus years.”
The report concludes that the DMCA does not need “wholesale changes,” but may benefit from fine-tuning to better “balance the rights and responsibilities of OSPs and rightsholders in the creative industries.” In particular, the Office “concluded that Congress’ original intended balance has been tilted askew” and “the scale of online copyright infringement and the lack of effectiveness of section 512 notices to address that situation remain significant problems.”
Among other things, the Office suggested that Congress consider legislation regarding:
At present, these remain just proposals for legislative action. And in its report, the Office does not provide non-statutory approaches to alter DMCA provisions or developments involving online intermediary liability in other countries, finding that both issues require further exploration. The Office expressed its intent to explore additional voluntary initiatives to address online infringement and help identify standard technical measures that can be adopted in certain sectors. Additionally, the Senate Judiciary intellectual property subcommittee has announced plans to draft changes to the DMCA by the end of 2020. Whether and to what extend the subcommittee follows the recommendations of this report bears watching for both OSPs and rightsholders.
 United States Copyright Office, Section 512 of Title 17: A Report on the Register of Copyrights (May 2020), https://www.copyright.gov/policy/section512/section-512-full-report.pdf (the “Report”).
 Margaret Harding McGill, Copyright Office: System for pulling content offline isn’t working, Axios (May 21, 2020), https://www.axios.com/copyright-office-system-for-pulling-content-offline-isnt-working-ed78fe62-eec4-44dc-bcdd-1c593e888fb8.html.
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