Earlier this week the Copyright Office launched a public inquiry into the impact of the DMCA exemptions process, and today it launched a second inquiry into a related part of the DMCA, the "safe harbor" provisions.
The safe harbor provision is the legal loophole that protects websites and online service providers from copyright infringement lawsuits. ISPs (and I mean that in the broader legal term) are safe so long as they meet certain procedural requirements, including responding to takedown notices from copyright holders.
Do you recall last month when Cox lost a critical summary judgement ruling in its defense against a copyright infringement suit brought by RightsCorp? The judge ruled against Cox because he believed the cable and internet provider had not met its obligations under the DMCA.
From the notice (PDF):
The United States Copyright Office is undertaking a public study to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the DMCA safe harbor provisions contained in 17 U.S.C. 512. Among other issues, the Office will consider the costs and burdens of the notice-and-takedown process on large- and small-scale copyright owners, online service providers, and the general public. The Office will also review how successfully section 512 addresses online infringement and protects against improper takedown notices. To aid in this effort, and to provide thorough assistance to Congress, the Office is seeking public input on a number of key questions.
Did you catch the part about "improper takedown notices"?
Now's our chance to speak up against those who get away with filing bogus DMCA notices to silence speech they don't like. Now is also a good time to lobby the Copyright Office to change the takedown notice process to include penalties for those who send bogus notices backed up by nothing more than a keyword search.
If you would like to be geard on this issues, comments from the public must be submitted to the Copyright Office on or before 21 March 2016. They'll have to be submitted through the website, via a form which will be made available on or before 1 February.
The Copyright Office has also said they will hold one or more public meetings to discuss issues related to this study. The meetings will take place after initial written comments are received, but no date has been set at this time.