Critics of DMCA takedowns flood US Copyright Office with thousands of comments

Advocates want penalties for companies that file unwarranted takedown requests

Critics of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act have flooded the U.S. Copyright Office with tens of thousands of comments complaining about a process that often forces websites to kill user-generated content when faced with a copyright complaint.

Before Thursday, the Copyright Office had received only about 80 public comments about potential changes to the DMCA's notice-and-takedown provisions, with the comment period scheduled to close Monday.

But another 55,000 people had filed comments as of Monday morning after digital rights group Fight for the Future and YouTube channel ChannelAwesome launched a campaign late Thursday to encourage people to complain about "the many ways that the DMCA is abused to censor and take down legitimate content from the Internet, stifling innovation, cultural creation, and freedom of speech."

ChannelAwesome's YouTube video, "Save Fair Use Now," has been viewed more than 180,000 times since it was posted Thursday. Fair use exemptions to copyright protections allow people to make limited use of protected material for things like commenting on it, news coverage, and parodies.

Instead of the takedown provision "being used to protect the content creators you know and love, it's now being used to harass and even destroy those content creators," Michael Michaud, said in the ChannelAwesome video.

Michaud called for penalties for companies that file false DMCA takedown notices.

Critics of the DMCA takedown provision have complained that many copyright owners send thousands of automated takedown notices to sites like YouTube, and in many cases, website owners remove user-generated content without investigating whether there was a copyright violation or whether the content was covered by fair use exemptions.

Many copyright groups, however, defend the provision as a valuable tool to protect copyrights, and some have called for the provision to be strengthened.

Fight for the Future's goal is to make sure the Copyright Office doesn't make the takedown process worse, "and to push for stronger protections for fair use and free speech within the takedown process," said Evan Greer, campaign director for the group.

"Right now if someone gets their video removed by DMCA by a bogus claim, the only recourse they have is a lawsuit, which is just not feasible for most small content creators," Greer added by email. "If DMCA is going to have a takedown process, it needs to have safeguards to prevent that process from being abused."

Fight for the Future's automated form encourages people to complain that the DMCA takedown process is "heavily biased in favor of corporate copyright holders and too commonly used to censor content that is protected under fair use."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Imou: At home with security

Modern living is all about functionality and security for everybody from the very young to the very old. With Imou anybody can enjoy smart life – the solution is at their fingertips.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?