Copyright RIAA president Cary Sherman isn’t the only music industry figure willing to talk openly now about revisiting the DMCA. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Eagles front man Don Henley says the time has come to blockade the safe harbors:
Congress should amend the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), eliminating or dramatically limiting the Safe Harbor provisions so that ISPs [Internet service providers] and websites such as YouTube, MySpace and Facebook have legal liability for hosting infringing content.
Without this change, copyright owners are left with the unjustifiable and oppressive burden of constant policing of the online companies’ sites, which has little real effect on the continual problem of infringement of property, and serves mostly to embitter fans and the users of these sites.
On the video side, rights owners are getting more aggressive about using legal tactics to try to steer around the safe harbors. Io Group, best known for having lost one of the first big §512 (c) cases, brought against Veoh, is trying again, this time taking a page from the Hurt Locker playbook.
In a suit filed August 18, Io charges 244 anonymous John Does of illegally downloading gay porn videos it distributes under the Titan Media banner. Pointedly, the suit charges that “Each Defendant used an Internet connection provided by AT&T to access the Internet for the purpose of engaging in the infringing activity complained of herein.” It wants AT&T to turn over the names of the alleged gay-porn infringers, putting the ISP on the hot seat regarding the privacy of its customers.
Apparently, Io has decided that if it can’t pin actual liability on ISPs, it can still make their lives miserable.
Disney and Warner are trying a similarly indirect approach in a suit filed August 24 against Triton Media, which the studios allege provided advertising consulting services and referrals to nine sites that specialize in pirated movies. The suit charges Triton with contributory infringement by providing a source of funding to keep the sites going. And there’s no safe harbor for aiding and abetting.
Is anyone still happy with the DMCA?
Io Group v. John Does 1-224
Warner, Disney v. Triton Media