The DMCA is Broken…

This post was sent to us by a friend who runs an indie label:

Just about a year after hiring two part time people, to do nothing else but issue DMCA takedown notices we’ve crossed the 50,000 notice milestone. The division of labor requires one person just to monitor YouTube, and another handles all DMCA compliant sites such as CyberLockers, Torrent Search Engines, etc.

The DMCA is BROKEN.

Most of the take downs are for the same title, at the same site, the same day. Day after day during the initial release period of the album (generally the first 60-90 days) it is a constant game of whack-a-mole.

We shouldn’t have to have the same title removed from a site more than once – and each time we issue a notice it takes 24 to 48 hours to remove. But, once it’s removed it is generally back on the site within a few hours.

We should not have to send a notice for the same title more than once, ever – Not to Rapidshare, not Grooveshark, not any one of the probably top 20 offending sites we track, and those are just the ones that even have a DMCA provision (The Pirate Bay for example does not, nor did Limewire to the best of my memory).

If site operators want to hide behind “how do we know what’s infringing”… Well, here’s how, we’ll let you know! If we issue you a notice, you now know… do you think the title will suddenly not be infringing the next day, when re-uploaded by the same offending person? Seriously? Does Billy in Pittsburgh suddenly own the rights to a Radiohead album (for example)?

Internet piracy apologists are quick to accuse labels and artists of wanting the government or others to become piracy police. This is simply not true. Most labels I know of have assumed the responsibility to track and issue takedown notices for themselves and on behalf of their artists (who should be focused on creating, not policing). Ironically, these same people are offended and attempt to diminish the issue when confronted with the overwhelming amount of takedowns being issued.

Keep in mind, we’re issuing DMCA takedown notices for ALBUMS not songs, entire albums are zipped as an archive and now distributed with as much ease as songs once were… let me say that again, our notices are for ALBUMS not songs…

There can be no question why album sales continue to plummet, and why digital album sales have leveled off… meanwhile, I suppose individual songs will continue to grow given the ease, convenience and low cost of a 99 cent purchases from iTunes.

The simple math says that if each of those uploaded ALBUMS was only downloaded ONCE by one other person, that is a loss of revenue of $350,000 dollars wholesale ($7 x 50,000).  If each one we’re downloaded only TWICE that is a loss of $700,000 dollars in revenue a year ($350,000 x 2). This is just for ONE indie label tracking only it’s top five titles at any given time.

Yes, many will exclaim that not every illegal download is a lost sale (to the artist/label/rights holder). But, these numbers illustrate the financial impact of just ONE or TWO illegal downloads per DMCA takedown notice. I think any reasonable person would agree the number of downloads per upload is significantly more than ONE or TWO.

We only have the resources to track 5-10 titles at a time with any effectiveness. Catalog is a free for all.  When adding in current titles that fall below the current top ten best sellers and a catalog that reaches back almost two decades the numbers become truly staggering.

This is why the number one agenda of the recorded music industry must be to address the illegal exploitation of artists work and closing this loophole in the DMCA, which is clearly not the intent of the law.