After about twenty years since its approval, I want to think that there is practically no one left who does not think that the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) is nonsense. And although it should not be necessary, just in case I will clarify that I am in favor of the creators (or the owners of the rights) of all types of content being able to exercise some control over their intellectual work. The problem is that it was a standard that was approved by the dictates of the industry and, although some exceptions were contemplated, the application of these falls on it. Something that leads to enormous abuse. This is why I think the DMCA is nonsense.
Until now, the references that we had to the uses of the DMCA were aimed at protecting (although in some cases it should be enclosed in quotation marks) intellectual property, but by chance two cases are known today in which has been used to censor critical messages on Twitter, one more example that we are talking about a legal regulation with huge gaps, and that it should be reviewed as soon as possible.
The first of the cases, which we can read on TechCrunch, is the story of a university student named Erik Johnson who works as a security researcher. In his role as a student at the University of Miami, they have had to do with Proctorio, a company that has developed a tool for e-learning that, in the opinion of Johnson (and many other students) has some problems that make it not recommended.
Since some of Proctorio’s software is installed on students’ computers as a Google Chrome extension, Johnson decided to analyze his code, in which he found some aspects that deserved to be disseminated To that end, he published a thread on Twitter in September in which he showed snippets of the code pointing out the Proctorio functions he criticized. In response, the company has demanded that Twitter remove them, relying on the protection of individual property provided by the DMCA.
In response, Twitter has removed the thread and Proctorio shields himself, in statements to the environment, in the protection to which the code of his software is subjected. However, in addition to not saying a word about the criticism of it, it also does not contemplate the so-called “Fair use”, fair use, in which the student’s tweets would fit perfectly. What is the problem? What According to the DMCA, it is the holder of the rights who decides whether a use is fair or not. And you can imagine what Proctorio decided, right?
The second case is even more striking. Imagine that Netflix adds a new production of its own to its catalog and, for promotional purposes, publishes a trailer of it. However, this production is not as successful as its creators would like and, soon after, some negative reviews begin to be published in which, for context, the trailer is added. And now imagine that, under the DMCA, Netflix start sending requests to Twitter to remove critical tweets that include the trailer. Hard to imagine, right? Well, according to ArsTechnica, this is what happened with the film Cuties.
In this case, yes, the tweets are still active (except those that included images from the film), but videos attached to posts now show messages They say: “This medium has been deactivated in response to a report from the copyright owner.” Yes, indeed, another use case of the DMCA as a tool to try to minimize the impact of criticism.
And now I go back to the beginning: it seems great to me that there is a legal norm that defends the rights of authors and creators, but if it turns out that it can be used for, as in these cases, censor critical content even if they are making fair use of protected content, is a clear sign that this rule is nonsense. The DMCA should be amended. The problem? That it seems that the US legislature is not for the work, although paradoxically, the rule goes against other authors.
A little over a year ago, Alvinsch published an interesting video on YouTube, in which he spoke (with his particular sense of humor) about the copyright protection granted by the DMCA and the problems with fair use. Although in his case he speaks exclusively of the music industry, from the two cases we have seen today, we know that part of what he raises, specifically what refers to the management of fair use, it is also applicable to other fields. And it really gives a lot to think about.
Software, Digital Millennium Copyright Act
World news – US – Tech : now tool to censor uncomfortable opinions