Digital music copyrights

Glenn W. Peterson

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 addresses digital copyrights, which includes music copyrights. In particular, as noted by the U.S. Copyright Office, the DMCA offers protection for providers against copyright infringement suits. Providers cannot be held liable but are responsible for responding when they receive a notice of copyright infringement. This could include removing the material or simply restricting access to it. This has hit home for California-based Google, which owns YouTube.

Users are constantly posting videos that include copyrighted music on YouTube. Billboard reported the site has become the focus of a rather large retaliation effort by various music artists along with music companies and organizations, who are trying to get the DMCA changed. The major area of concern is that providers, like YouTube, are limiting and in some cases lowering the profits received by artists through providing content on their sites without consent from the owners. Artists are asking for change to help ensure they get their fair share of revenue from their works. They would like to see changes in the law that lead to a fair distribution of earnings between providers and artists.

YouTube has countered by citing the billions of dollars it has given to the music industry from its revenues. Furthermore, YouTube maintains that it does not get an unfair advantage because of the DMCA, and that it has been compliant with the law in regards to taking down content upon receiving a notice. Finally, the site maintains that labels also have the ability to remove their own music through the Content ID system.