Music artists have had enough of the “safe harbor” provision in the US DMCA act and started a public campaign to get the US government to reform the 18-year-old law.
For the past few months, a large number of music artists have started criticizing YouTube and demanding to receive better compensation for how the service uses their music.
Trent Reznor: YouTube is built on the backs of free, stolen content
The most infamous example was a statement from Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails frontman and Apple Music executive,that YouTube “is built on the backs of free, stolen content.”
The main issue at the heart of Reznor’s comments come from the fact that YouTube offers access to a larger collection of music that no other subscription-based service like Spotify or Apple Music can provide.
The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), a law introduced in 1998, offers online services that accept user uploads a “safe harbor” if they allow the copyright owner to request the removal of the infringed content and then act to remove it, in a timely manner.
YouTube has been using the DMCA to its advantage
The problem, according to the music industry, is that they cannot flag all of YouTube’s illegally uploaded music in due time, something that Google knows about and has used to its advantage.
Music artists and music labels have signed numerous open letters asking for the US government to reform the DMCA and remove the safe harbor provisions.
Today, 180 music artists from different genres, of which 19 are music labels representatives, will present a petition and run ads in the Washington DC magazines Politico, The Hill, and Roll Call, asking the US to reform the DMCA law once again, according to.
US investigating DMCA usage
Artists and labels want Google to pay fees at the same level as subscription services, which are much higher. If their wish comes true and the US government reforms the DMCA removing the safe harbor provisions, they say YouTube won’t have anything to hide behind, and will have to pay for the usage of their content.
YouTube shows ads with videos uploaded by users, making a profit from music which in almost all cases is uploaded without content.
Currently, the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee is reviewing copyright law, while the US Copyright Office has been conducting a long study on the effects of the DMCA safe harbor provisions.
The media pressure and public lobbying from the music industry are getting more intense as the US government is getting nearer to a decision.