February 17, 2016
Maria A. Pallante
Register of Copyrights
United States Copyright Office
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559
I am encouraged to see the Copyright Office’s interest in reviewing Section 512 and “undertaking a public study to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the safe harbor provisions contained in section 512 of title 17, United States Code.”
As a private citizen witnessing the wholesale destruction of emerging and mid-level working class artists, I feel the need to speak out. Great art takes time and single minded dedication, often years, sometimes decades, before an artist finds their true voice.
The future of art, music, literature, film, photography, graphic design and all forms of human creativity are in serious peril. Our copyright laws that were originally created to protect artists are failing them.
Section 512, was created in 1998 to protect internet start-ups from frivolous lawsuits stemming from unwarranted copyright claims; it was never intended to have the disastrous consequences creators have endured over the past eighteen years.
One need look no further than the hundreds of millions of legitimate takedown notifications filed each year that are rendered virtually useless by a loophole that allows offenders to simply repost the same work, indefinitely.
We are not asking the Copyright Office or House Judiciary Committee to create new regulations, but rather amend an existing one that is not accomplishing what it was clearly intended to do; protect internet start-ups and copyright holders from abuse.
It is difficult to asses the exact amount of financial damage that has been done, but we know it is tens of billions of dollars. The recorded music business has lost well over half of its’ value since Napster launched in 1999, production of films by major studios has dropped by nearly forty percent, professional photographers have become an endangered species and authors are reportedly losing over one-hundred million dollars a year to fraudulent e-book sales.
Internet piracy places a huge burden on children and young people who are constantly confronted with easy access to infringing works. After all, it’s not as if warning signs pop up advising users that they are about to enter a website loaded with infringing material. Over time, these young people begin to believe that accessing everything for free on the internet is the way the world works; not a message we want to be communicating to an entire generation.
I’ve also had the opportunity to meet with performing arts students and get their views on pursuing a career in the arts. Last fall, I visited a North Miami magnet school made up of high school students primarily from low income families. It is one of two magnet schools in the Miami area that offers music classes. It exists because of a teacher fiercely dedicated to making it happen and students who pay for the class by getting part time jobs and paying $125 to be part of the school’s choir class.
I was there to talk to them about the value of contribution and how important it is to support one another as artists and how they could talk to their friends about it. I was also there to find out what they thought about the challenges artists face in pursuing a career as an artist in today’s world.
Many of them said that singing was the most inspirational, important part of their young lives, but as much as some of them wanted to, they felt the odds of succeeding in today’s environment has become nearly impossible. The odds were just too stacked against them to make a go of it.
Last year, in support of a ‘Stay Down’ amendment, I travelled to Washington D.C., New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco to speak with members of the House Judiciary Committee.
In September, we introduced a petition seeking support for a “Stay Down” amendment to Section 512. In addition to getting signatures, the petition continues to get covered by journalists.
In closing, I have two requests. An opportunity to present our petition to you at the Copyright Office in Washington and a seat at your roundtable discussions.
William Buckley Jr.
Founder / Executive Director
P.O. Box 214
Palm Beach, Fl, 33480