On Wired, Geeta Dayal looks at the state of automated copyright enforcement video-bots, the mindless systems that shut down the Hugo awards livestream, took down NASA's own footage of the Curiosity landing, and interrupted the video from the DNC. Dayal examines the legal status and necessity for these bots (dubious); their ability to model copyright's full suite, including fair use (nonexistent); and the business reasons for deploying them (cowardly). She also looks at what's at stake when our ability to communicate with one another is suborned to the profit-maximization strategies of giant copyright holders.
“The companies that are selling these automated takedown systems are really going above and beyond the requirements set for them in the DMCA, and as a result are favoring the interests of a handful of legacy media operators over the free-speech interest of the public,” says Parker Higgins, an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The notice-and-takedown regime created by the DMCA allows copyright holders to send a written notice to an online hosting service when they find their copyright being violated. The online service can then escape legal liability by taking down the content fairly promptly, and the original poster has the opportunity to dispute the notice and have the content reinstated after two weeks.
But that regime breaks down for livestreaming. For one, if a valid copyright dispute notice is filed by a human, it’s unlikely that a livestream site would take it down before the event ends, nor, under the law, is it actually required to. On the flipside, if a stream is taken down, the user who posted it has no immediate recourse, and the viewership disappears.