Sen. Thom Tillis
Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images
Senate Subcommittee Introduces Draft Bill To Reform DMCA
The Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Intellectual Property spent the past year analyzing how the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) fits into the modern internet ecosystem. Facilitated by Subcommittee Chairman Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Chris Coons (D-Del.), the subcommittee hosted numerous hearings and convened regular stakeholder discussions to learn how to best reform the aging legislation to better empower and equip creators to protect their work online.
On December 22, 2020, Chairman Tillis released the first discussion draft of the Digital Copyright Act (DCA) of 2021, intended to reform the DMCA. "The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed in 1998, and while it was revolutionary at the time, the law simply hasn't kept pace with changes in technology. The DMCA is now antiquated and is past-due for modernization," defended Chairman Tillis. "This discussion draft is the result of a year-long series of hearings and months of feedback from creators, user groups, and technology companies. This is just the first step in a long and lengthy process, and I look forward to receiving feedback from stakeholders and releasing a second discussion draft in April."
The discussion draft embodies many of the key concerns presented by the Academy, including ways that better empower individual creators and independent music makers such as replacing the "notice and takedown" system that has long disadvantaged individual creators fighting against rampant and persistent infringement. The Recording Academy has long championed reforms to the DMCA over the years, and was an active participant in the multiyear Copyright Office study on Section 512 of the DMCA, which recommended many of the changes outlined by Chairman Tillis.
Recording Academy Chair & Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason jr. praised the discussion draft. "The Recording Academy would like to thank Senator Tillis for his leadership in advancing DMCA reform. The Academy is particularly gratified that this initial discussion draft of legislation incorporates reforms that the Academy has advocated for since 2014, including a 'notice-and-staydown' requirement and other provisions that help independent music creators. We look forward to working with Senator Tillis and other members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees in 2021 to accomplish meaningful reform of the DMCA."
Actively representing music creators throughout this lengthy process, Mason jr. and four-time GRAMMY winning singer/songwriter and Recording Academy Trustee Yolanda Adams testified before the subcommittee in support of pro-creator reforms earlier this year. The Recording Academy will continue to ensure that music makers always have a voice during these ongoing negotiations and to advocate for the inclusion of these pro-creator provisions in the final bill text.