The future of art, music, literature, film, photography and all forms of human creativity are in serious peril. Our copyright laws that were originally created to protect artists are failing them on the internet.
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 cost of piracy has been devastating for both copyright holders, many of whom have lost careers and a society who will never know how many great works were never realized because most creators can no longer earn a living from their work.
When piracy exploded onto the scene in 1999 it caught nearly everyone off guard. College students rejoiced over the prospect of getting music for free while musicians looked on in horror as they watched their work being given away by strangers without their consent.
Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that we have failed an entire generation. They grew up with a false sense that piracy was a victimless crime and their perception of integrity and respect became blurred lines that under certain circumstances could be ignored.
The debate over the takedown notification process has little to do with enforcing the spirit of the law, it has to do with money. Clearly, those who wrote Section 512 of the DMCA had no intention of creating a revolving door policy for criminal activity.
But that’s what Section 512 ended up being, a safe harbor for criminal activity that has proved incredibly profitable for those who have no regard for copyright. One need look no further than the hundreds of millions of legitimate takedown notifications filed each year; rendered virtually useless by a loophole that allows offenders to repost the same work without legal consequences.
Section 512 was never intended to deny copyright holders the ability to protect their work from infringing websites, but it has.
Now, nearly twenty years later and tens of billions of dollars in lost earnings, copyright holders are still waiting for our legislators to restore the spirit of the law and afford them the protection that was originally guaranteed by our constitution.