SMART Copyright Act Updates DMCA in Fight Against Piracy

Senators Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) introduced the SMART Copyright Act of 2022, bipartisan legislation they say will “hold tech accountable by developing effective, widely-available measures to combat copyright theft.” While intellectual property owners see the proposal as a positive step to protect creators, critics view it as a potential threat to free speech. Essentially an update to 1998’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act, SMART allows the U.S. Copyright Office to create standard technical measures (STMs) to protect rightsholders through a filtering system implemented by online hosting platforms. Continue reading SMART Copyright Act Updates DMCA in Fight Against Piracy

Twitch Continues Its Push into Music, Adds Merlin as Partner

Amazon’s game-centric streaming platform Twitch has been going all-in on music. This week it made a deal this week with digital licensing agency Merlin to unlock live experiences worldwide and create revenue earning opportunities for the indie’s global membership. The agreement comes on the heels of last week’s expansion pact with Universal Music Group and a pact with Warner Music Group in Q4, when Twitch launched The Collective artist incubator for musicians. The Merlin deal offers members “an on-ramp to our devoted and engaged Twitch community,” said Twitch vice president and head of music Tracy Chan. Continue reading Twitch Continues Its Push into Music, Adds Merlin as Partner

DJs Facing DMCA Takedowns on Twitch Look for Alternatives

Twitch evolved from a video-game streaming site to include creative content and, in 2018, music. During COVID-19, many DJs have been using Twitch as a way to keep their local music scene alive. In Minneapolis, for example, Dave Eckblad produces the Twitch stream for music collective Intellephunk, including live events that engage fans and draw in tips. StreamElements reports that, over the course of one year, the number of hours users spend streaming music and performing arts skyrocketed from 3.6 million to 17.6 million. However, complying with copyright regulation may have an impact on this trend. Continue reading DJs Facing DMCA Takedowns on Twitch Look for Alternatives

Twitch Responds to a Flood of Copyright Takedown Notices

Last month, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Recording Academy, the National Music Publishers Association, the Music Managers Forum, the American Association of Independent Music and SAG-AFTRA chastised Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos for his company Twitch’s copyright violations. Twitch finally conceded that it ignored the use of unlicensed recorded music by its video creators and issued a blog post urging them to no longer do so and to delete any older VODs and Clips with unlicensed music. Continue reading Twitch Responds to a Flood of Copyright Takedown Notices

Music Groups Accuse Twitch of Streaming Unlicensed Music

A group of U.S. music organizations — including the Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA), the Recording Academy, the National Music Publishers Association, the Music Managers Forum, the American Association of Independent Music, and a dozen more — penned an angry letter to Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos and Twitch chief executive Emmett Shear. Their complaint is that the Amazon-owned Twitch, a popular live-streaming platform, is not securing synch and mechanical licenses for its Soundtrack tool. Continue reading Music Groups Accuse Twitch of Streaming Unlicensed Music

Twitch Inks Live-Streaming Deal with Indie Music Companies

Amazon-owned Twitch, which now has 17.5 million average daily visitors, responded to the escalating problem of its users being hit with music copyright takedowns. Under pressure by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), Twitch debuted a beta version of Soundtrack by Twitch, an in-platform music streaming service featuring 1+ million copyright-cleared songs by independent artists that can be used legally and free of charge as background music. Continue reading Twitch Inks Live-Streaming Deal with Indie Music Companies

Amazon Rebrands Twitch Prime in Shift to Gaming Strategy

Amazon debuted Prime Gaming this week, a rebranding of its first foray into the video game industry, Twitch Prime, which offers exclusive game content and free subscriptions to Twitch, the live-streaming site. There, users could enjoy free games from small studios, discounts for bigger titles like “Grand Theft Auto” and in-game gear. Prime Gaming will include those features and offer more titles and exclusive content, accessible without a Twitch account. Meanwhile, a group of artists has demanded that Amazon pay to license music streaming on Twitch. Continue reading Amazon Rebrands Twitch Prime in Shift to Gaming Strategy

House of Representatives Sends Copyright Act to Senate

In a 410-6 vote, the House of Representatives approved the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act that will allow online content creators to more efficiently pursue infringers. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) introduced the measure last year. If it becomes law, it will create a new small claims court with a tribunal of copyright claims officers who would work with both parties to resolve the issue. Potential damages would no more than $15,000 per claim or $30,000 in total. Continue reading House of Representatives Sends Copyright Act to Senate

CASE Act’s Copyright Enforcement Draws Mixed Response

In July, a bipartisan group from the Senate Judiciary Committee reintroduced the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act, by which the U.S. Copyright Office will create a three-person Copyright Claims Board that will supervise a ‘small claims-style’ system for damages. The Copyright Alliance and the Graphic Artists Guild approved the move, which allows a copyright owner whose content was used without permission to claim for damages up to $15,000 for each work and $30,000 in total. However, some groups are opposing the Act and question the cost of such an approach. Continue reading CASE Act’s Copyright Enforcement Draws Mixed Response

Music Labels File Lawsuit Claiming Charter Enables Piracy

Sony, Universal, Warner music labels, and their subsidiaries, have filed a suit in the U.S. District Court in Colorado, claiming that Charter Communications is enabling music piracy. The claim states that Charter hasn’t ended the accounts of subscribers who pirate copyrighted songs, and that it aids users illegally download music by selling access to high Internet speeds. The latter isn’t a violation of the law, but Internet providers can be held responsible for serial infringers if they do not cut their accounts. Continue reading Music Labels File Lawsuit Claiming Charter Enables Piracy

Unofficial YouTube Channels Openly Deliver Pirated Content

Some YouTube “creators” are brazenly uploading copyrighted content to unofficial channels and asking viewers for donations to continue their illegal activities. One example is Kitchen Nightmares Hotel Hell and Hell’s Kitchen, an unofficial channel that runs full episodes of chef Gordon Ramsay’s signature TV shows, asking viewers to support its onerous work “downloading, converting, editing, rendering and uploading” to make the illegal content available. The information was also listed on the pirates’ Patreon page. Continue reading Unofficial YouTube Channels Openly Deliver Pirated Content

U.S. Rights Groups Propose Website-Blocking to Halt Piracy

Blocking piracy sites became controversial in the U.S. with SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), which although it had support of both parties and dozens of government, consumer and union organizations, was seen as a threat to free speech. A second proposal (PIPA) also met fierce resistance, culminating in a widespread service blackout by Google, the English Wikipedia and 7,000 other smaller websites. Both bills were shelved, but now, the issue is being raised in the U.S. due to success in website-blocking in Europe. Continue reading U.S. Rights Groups Propose Website-Blocking to Halt Piracy

Library of Congress, Copyright Office Unlock Gadget Repair

The Library of Congress and U.S. Copyright Office just passed exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that legalizes the so-called right to repair. Although the DMCA was created to prevent copyright piracy, it also resulted in a host of problematic side effects. Because devices such as smartphones come loaded with digital rights management (DRM) software, users infringed copyright laws if they attempted to repair such devices. With the new exemptions, users are now free to do so. Continue reading Library of Congress, Copyright Office Unlock Gadget Repair

Critics Argue GDPR’s Article 13 Threatens Future of Internet

A European Parliament committee just voted on Article 13, a controversial provision in the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that wasn’t in the final draft but was re-introduced on May 25, the day it went into effect. Article 13 requires Internet platforms to vet uploads such as news articles and music videos for copyright infringement. Such filters could encourage platforms to block more content and place an undue burden on smaller platforms, argue the critics. Worse, they continue, filters could be modified to block content critical of governments. Continue reading Critics Argue GDPR’s Article 13 Threatens Future of Internet

Documentarians, Trade Associations Debate Copyright Laws

One of the gray areas of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is the exemption for filmmakers. Although documentary filmmakers are allowed to use small pieces of copyrighted films in some circumstances, many of them say the provision is unclear and can lead to confusion and uncertainty. In late 2017, the International Documentary Association, Kartemquin Films, Independent Filmmaker Project, University of Film and Video Association and others asked the U.S. Copyright Office for clarity. Trade associations including the MPAA, RIAA and ESA have expressed concerns regarding exemptions. Continue reading Documentarians, Trade Associations Debate Copyright Laws