Artist Rights Alliance Challenges Tech Platforms in Wake of Copyright Office Report
“Tech monopolies are failing artists, songwriters, and music fans. And they couldn’t care less.”
(Washington, DC) — The Artist Rights Alliance, which is leading artist mobilization efforts in support of reform of the section 512 DMCA safe harbors, released the following statement in response to today’s Copyright Office DMCA Notice and Takedown Report:
“When you cut through the bureaucratic caution and legalese, this report describes a simple, brutal truth: The tech monopolies are failing artists, songwriters, and music fans. And they couldn’t care less.
“Billion-dollar valuations of tech companies built on a foundation of shortchanging artists and songwriters dispel the myth that ‘there is no money in music.’ It’s time to put that money back in the hands of the artists and songwriters who invest their time, labor, heart, and soul into making music, and the people who believe in their dreams and support their careers.
“The bottom line: tech platforms hold the keys to their own networks and could massively reduce the amount of online piracy and the crushing burden it imposes on working songwriters and musicians today if they wanted to.
“But they don’t. Because they make too much money off the broken system this report describes, selling ads alongside pirated copies of our work and scraping data from music fans everywhere they go online, from the most legitimate streaming services to the darkest corners of the web.
“If we could get some common decency from the Silicon Valley giants, we could work out solutions to many of these issues without changes to the law. The Judiciary Committees asked for this report and must now push tech companies to find these solutions and insist that independent creators have a seat at the table.
“If that fails, Congress must act.”
The Artist Rights Alliance (as ARA and under its predecessor name, the Content Creators Coalition) has led the charge to reform the DMCA for the last five years:
- ARA member T Bone Burnett’s one of a kind video comment to the Copyright Office on behalf on the organization urging DMCA reform and garnering international media attention including coverage inBillboard, the Tennessean, American Songwriter, Musicrow and Complete Music Update;
- Airing online ads lampooning the gaming of the outdated DMCA by Google’s YouTube service — ads that were censored by YouTube itself (!!) (theNew York Post covered this outrageous abuse);
- Organizing artists to petition Congress for reform — an effort that swelled to an unprecedented coalition of more than 400 artists and a cross-section of the music industry; and
- Providing free of charge classes to inform artists and songwriters around the country about section 512 of the DMCA, empower, and organize.
The Artist Rights Alliance thanks the Copyright Office for their work in researching and preparing this thoughtful report. We urge all stakeholders — Congress, the creative community, and the tech platforms — to study it carefully and use the information it provides to chart a better, fairer course for the use and protection of copyrighted music and other creative works online.
When Congress enacted the DMCA two decades ago, it imagined a future when platforms worked in good faith to protect creative works. If they made a reasonable effort to do so, they would receive immunity from copyright infringement suits when they came up short. This report spends hundreds of pages explaining how that future never came to pass — as the platforms pocketed their legal immunity while doing the bare legal minimum to protect our works online. And shortsighted courts repeatedly and improperly lowered the bar so that doing the “bare legal minimum” amounts to almost nothing at all.
The result is today’s broken “whack a mole” notice and takedown system described at length in the Copyright Office report, which forces artists to expend vast resources to find unlicensed copies of their work online. At the same time, platforms disclaim any affirmative responsibility to police their networks or use their technical know-how to stop the massive commercial infringement they enable and, in many cases, profit from.
The Artist Rights Alliance is an artist-run, non-profit organization fighting for fair compensation for songwriters and musicians in the modern music economy. ARA’s Board of Directors leads the organization: GRAMMY winner Rosanne Cash, music manager Thomas Manzi, John McCrea of CAKE, critically-acclaimed Americana singer/songwriter Tift Merritt, world guitar innovator Matthew Montfort, and Indie label executive and musician Maggie Vail.
In addition to its advocacy work, one of ARA’s key missions is providing artists and their allies with resources, knowledge, and tools to navigate the complex music business landscape. ARA works to ensure artists are empowered to advocate directly for themselves by developing and producing classes, events, and presentations to demystify music, politics, and the spaces where they intersect.