At the end of December, I mentioned that the government is seeking input on how it should update the exemption request process for the right to crack DRM under the DMCA. But what I hadn’t noticed was at the same time, the government also posted a request for comments on another section of the DMCA—the section having to do with web sites being able to obtain “safe harbor” status by honoring DMCA takedown requests for copyrighted material.
In terms of permitting creators to publish and self-publish their own content, this could be an even more important chance to provide feedback on how the DMCA should deal with fair use of copyrighted material.
After an extension, the deadline has arrived—comments are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time tonight, April 1. If you have comments, you can use this electronic submission form to send them in. There’s also a submission form and call to action at TakeDownAbuse.org.
“Nostalgia Critic” Doug Walker has posted another video in his “Where’s the Fair Use” campaign. He calls on viewers to use this opportunity to complain about how the DMCA process is being abused to take down YouTube content making fair use of copyrighted material.
Though Walker’s point pertains to fan-created videos, the same arguments could apply to textual works—such as self-published e-books. Just as with YouTube video creators, most self-publishing authors don’t have access to the kind of legal resources that corporate entities do.
While the DMCA was intended to work to the benefit of any content creator, in practice it tends to favor those with big legal departments, deep pockets, and plenty of time to fight these matters out. Given that the penalties for fraudulent DMCA takedowns have been rendered effectively toothless by the courts, under the current regime there’s no reason why corporate entities shouldn’t send takedown notices in bad faith—they won’t ever see any punishment for it.
If this is an important issue to you, today is the last day you can make your viewpoint known on the matter. While I’m still skeptical it will actually do any good, at the least it can’t hurt to let the government know how you feel.