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'Landmark' Copyright Act Reform Proposed

Capitol Building

Shades of SOPA-PIPA!* Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), fresh off the passage of his bill that would make illegal streaming a felony in some cases, has introduced a discussion draft of major copyright reform legislation that has computer companies fuming and studios gently applauding.

“The Motion Picture Association commends Senator Tillis and his staff for their work in seeking to address the shortcomings of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the Motion Picture Association of America said of the draft. 

Tillis billed the draft (for a summary, click here)  as a landmark effort at reform rather than "tinkering around the edges" and invited comment, which he will surely get, from " all interested stakeholders - large and small, individuals and companies, YouTubers, and independent creators" by March 5.

The draft is the product of a host of hearings in 2020 on the DMCA and input from creators and distributors of copyright works, online service providers, public-interest groups, and academics," MPA pointed out in calling the draft a "first effort to find harmony among their many conflicting views."

Tillis said the bill among other things, "improves the exemptions available to users for circumventing technological protection measures (TPMs), increases attribution protections so that authors can be properly credited, and makes the Register of Copyrights a Presidential appointee and places the Copyright Office under the Department of Commerce."

Also Read: Commerce DMCA Meeting Looks to Tackle Standardized Takedowns First

MPA is particularly pleased with the proposals to narrow the copyright safe harbor it said has been broadened due to a misinterpretation of the DMCA.

On the other side were computer companies and edge providers represented by the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), whose members include Facebook, Google and Twitter.

They appeared to find discord--and even illegality--rather than potential harmony in the proposal. "

Industry works to provide new tools for greater compensation for creators and lawful alternatives for consumers," said CCIA president Matt Schruers. "Unfortunately, this discussion draft would not benefit individual creators and would impose notice and stay down provisions that are not just too severe but unconstitutional.”

CCIA said the draft "reads like a Christmas wish list for Hollywood and big content companies" and "increases the role of federal agencies in regulating copyright, gives greater power to copyright holders to file small claims suits and also adds rules and penalties impacting how internet companies take down copyright infringement online. "

CCIA said its discussions with Tillis about the draft would be about those many concerns.

*Almost a decade ago, studios and edge providers including Google, waged a battle royal over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and its Protect IP Act [PIPA] complement in the Senate. Neither made it into law.