darren-halstead-sT50jo9LCH0-unsplashModern copyright law has long been in need of an overhaul, but need does not necessarily precede action, and the gap between what is and what should be can be wide indeed. Critics of current applications of the law would suggest that it comes down too often in favor of the powerful, which is to say on the side of rightsholders pressing the case for infringement, with many of those rightsholders being big corporate entities. They're of course entitled to protect their rights to their intellectual property under the law, but what those rights are and what they entail has shifted greatly in their favor over recent years.

One body — really, the only body — that could affect meaningful change in the law is the U.S. Copyright Office, and to that end, the USCO commissioned a report on the register of copyrights and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DCMA) at the behest of Congress and in response to hearings on the topic of updating and modernizing copyright law. For those in the camp critical of the current laws, it was to be hoped that the study might conclude that modern copyright law favors too greatly corporate rightsholders, and would suggest action to curtail apparent abuses on their part.

Perhaps not surprisingly this was not the conclusion the report arrived at. As Gizmodo reports, the Section 512 of Title 17 report asserts that it should in fact be easier for copyright holders to issue takedown notices, and that any updates to the DMCA should address rightsholders' persistent concerns about infringement.

The report issues further recommendations on safe harbor provisions and takedown disputes, but the thrust of the report seems to be that the DMCA isn't too skewed in favor of rightsholders, but not enough. Its proposed solutions might work in a world in which all parties operated in good faith, but there is a growing body of evidence that labels and studios operate in anything but in issuing takedown notices. Under the current system, it's easy to take a big, sweeping approach, demanding takedowns of anything that comes even close to infringing regardless of fair use or any other mitigating factors. There's no penalty to such an approach, and so it makes an overzealous approach the logical one, at least for corporations with the resources to seek out alleged offenders.

It remains to be seen which of the recommendations are put into pace, if any; the good money would be on the majority of the suggestions making it into the legislation, and said legislation ending up as law. And while it would be a blow for the average creator on YouTube, you can;t argue that it's not simply the logical conclusion of a trend that's been gaining momentum the past decade.

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