Are the protections ensconced in the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act (DMCA) strong enough? Apparently not, says “Congressman
Hollywood” Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), who feels that certain provisions need
reinforcement (PDF) in light of the changes in technology between today and
the DMCA’s inception.
One of the most important provisions worth revisiting, says
Berman, are the safe harbor provisions that currently shelter ISPs and
user-generated content sites like Youtube
While many argue that these protections are one of the DMCA’s greatest
strengths – allowing ISPs and companies to host user content unburdened of the
expensive task of policing it – Berman seems to think that the same hosts are
using safe harbor as a legal shield to protect them from the consequences of
what Hollywood feels are lax policies.
Critics are understandably concerned, as a loss of safe
harbor protections might cause Youtube et al to be “blasted
out of existence,” according to Gizmodo
Editor Matt Buchanan.
Berman would like the Department of Justice to get involved
as well, creating a new IP enforcement division and enacting a voluntary
partnership with ISPs that would allow the DOJ to send notices similar to the
infamous DMCA “takedown” notices currently used. This would be a sharp turn for
the DOJ, which historically has chosen
not to participate in cases of individual piracy even though it had the
power to do so.
Finally, Berman wants to revisit the current government
stance on content filtering; he feels that technology has advanced sufficiently
enough to warrant a second look at whether it is viable to enforce mandatory
content filtering “in
While Berman’s words are merely indicative of his
intentions, it seems that he intends for some of his ideas to show up in a
future, as-yet-unnamed piece of legislation.