Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Intellectual Property held a hearing on Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Section 512 of the DMCA is known as the “safe harbor” provisions. These are the provisions that protect hosts, such as Tumblr, Flickr and YouTube, as well as search engines, such as Google and Bing, from liability for copyright infringement due to content uploaded by third parties.
In short, these provisions set up a protocol, known as the “notice and takedown” system where a copyright holder notifies the host or search engine of a copyright infringement and, should the host/search engine “expeditiously” remove the work involved, they are freed from liability.
The notice and takedown provisions have been lauded as the law that enabled much of the Web to take shape while also providing copyright holders an easy, fast way to protect their work. However, they’ve also been decried as a way for individuals to censor content they don’t like or for web services to enable piracy while shirking responsibility and liability.
It’s clear that Section 512 has generated some very mixed opinions and most have a love/hate relationship with it. Hosts love the legal certainty but hate the burden of completing takedowns, copyright holders love the easy removals but are upset about the sheer number they have to file.
To figure out what the answer is, I decided to first look at my experience with the DMCA and the experiences of my friends.Continue Reading