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Plea from music stars to reform copyright law

Written by Ellis Sweetenham on 22 June 2016

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Copyright uproar has developed across the pond, after more than 180 artists call for reform to online copyright.

Taylor Swift, Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney are amongst those who has signed an open letter criticising the impact of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Enacted in 1998, the DMCA included a ‘safe harbour’ principle in which websites could not be found responsible for copyright infringement made by their users, so as long as they remove it when it comes to their attention.

However, music stars claim that this legislation is to blame for falling revenues and the lack of growth in fees payable to them following the demise of the CD and the development of online viewing and streaming.

They firmly believe and want to convey the message that this law benefits those “who wish to exploit music for their financial enrichment”.

The artists claim in the letter that it is unfair for them to monitor their own copyright on these sites and that websites such as YouTube and Facebook should regain more responsibility for what is posted by their users.

However, this letter is not without its critics and many have pointed out the existence of already established features on some websites that can automatically detect copyright infringement.

YouTube, for example, have tools that allows artists to pinpoint infringement as well as place advertisements on those offending videos as opposed to removing them completely.

With the continuing surge of the internet, it is unclear whether a solution will be found that will keep everyone happy.

Law reporter, Jeff Roberts, makes a bold statement about the letter stating that it has been instigated by the music industry because they are “still coming to terms with how to make up for the loss of CD sales, which provided labels with enormous profit margins they have been unable to reproduce in the digital era” and want to recover some of their loss at the expense of websites such as YouTube.

The true impact of the letter will come to light in time as the US congress are currently in discussions to evaluate the DMCA.

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