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U.S. Senators introduce SMART Copyright Act to combat piracy

For years, U.S. lawmakers have considered options to update the DMCA so it can more effectively deal with today’s online copyright issues.

Senator Thom Tillis was one of the most recent to take up the baton. A little over a year ago, he released a discussion draft of the “Digital Copyright Act of 2021” (DCA) a potential successor to the current DMCA.

Among other things, the Republican senator believes that online platforms can and should do more to tackle online piracy, a view shared by Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy. Last summer, the pair wrote a letter to the Copyright Office, asking it to look into the feasibility of technical protection measures and automated takedown tools.

The Copyright Office launched a consultation in 2021 which triggered massive opposition against upload filters. In the meantime, Tillis and Leahy did not stand idly by. The senators drafted a bill to amend the DMCA to make it easier for the government to prescribe specific takedown tools for online hosting platforms.

SMART Copyright Act of 2022
With a bipartisan bill, the senators want to break the impasse between online services and rightsholders and move things forward. Last week they introduced the SMART Copyright Act of 2022, which could result in some significant changes to the DMCA.

The general idea is to grant the Copyright Office the power to designate standard technical protection measures to be implemented by online hosting platforms. These STMs can be tailored to specific niches such as audio and video, which offers much more flexibility than the current regime under the DMCA.

“In the fight to combat copyright piracy, there is currently no consensus-based standard technical measures and that needs to be addressed,” Senator Tillis comments.

“I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will provide widely available piracy-fighting measures and create a trusted and workable internet for our creative communities.”

Senator Leahy shares this view and stresses that the changes will help to protect artists and creators while enabling them to get paid.

“The technology exists to protect against this theft; we just need online platforms to use the technology. I’m working hard to make sure our artists get paid, and we can enjoy legal access to their wonderful creations,” Senator Leahy notes. Fjoddes

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