March 5 is Deadline for Comments on Draft Bill to Restrict Online Piracy and Copyright Abuse

It’s time to take some of the wild out of the West when it comes to providing and policing copyrightable content on the Internet.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) has presented a draft bill intended to revise copyright enforcement by requiring technology companies that provide online content to take a more active role in policing their sites for piracy by placing a greater legal burden on those who fail to.

“Copyright law today is ill-suited for the needs of most copyright owners and individual users,” Tillis said, upon release of a discussion draft of his proposed Digital Copyright Act.

Since it was passed in 1998, the DMCA has been hotly-contested issue in most matters involving digital music and copyright. Creators often call for more favorable royalties, while platforms often cite the act as rationale for lower or no rates, and broader access to content.

One of the key sections of the Tillis proposal, reports MediaPost would replace the current “notice-and-takedown” regime for online copyright enforcement with what Tillis calls a “notice-and-staydown” system.

Predictably, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which opposes content restrictions on the Internet, called for preventing the bill’s passage. “There’s nothing to discuss,” said EFF, “the bill, if passed, would absolutely devastate the Internet.”

Preventing Pirated Material

The current Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s “safe harbor” provisions immunize YouTube, Twitter, Facebook — and all other companies that allow users to post content — from liability when third parties upload pirated material. For years, Facebook, for example, infamously ran content taken from leading newspapers and periodicals that it refused to pay publishers for, suggesting that the use provided traffic for owners.

The bill is intended to modernize U.S. copyright law by amending the key provisions of the DMCA for addressing online infringement, modernizing circumvention measures, providing a means whereby authors can be properly credited, establishing the Copyright Office as an executive branch agency of the Department of Commerce, and by creating a copyright small claims tribunal.

Other goals of the bill are to “ensure that our copyright system provides both sufficient incentives for creators, important certainty and guidance for OSPs, and necessary protections for individual users and consumers.”

Those wishing to comment on the draft bill can do so before March 5 by writing Tillis’ office at


Image source: USAToday;

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