The BRAT Blog

My Submission To Copyright Dot Gov

posted: February 19th, 2016


I call this icon "questioning copyright". You may feel free to use this icon, but please give me proper credit as the creator.

Recently, Copyright.gov solicited comments for public record regarding the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). As a firm opponent to receiving over-reaching DMCA takedowns for my transformative works (mashups), I welcomed the chance to finally have my voice heard. I am hopeful my words will have a positive effect, and proper change will come for all of us on the net who create transformative works, be it mashups, slideshows, funny videos or other multimedia creations.

Special thanks to "Dave Gilmour" for posting the Harvard video link, and to "Pom Deter" for posting the link to the US Copyright office!

As stated on other pages of this site - but worth repeating - the following are my thoughts and words, and are not necessarily reflective of any of my clients.

My submission…

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Hello, and thank you for opening the DMCA topic up for discussion. As an individual who has tried for years to be heard, I welcome this opportunity.

My name is Daniel Barassi. I run my own production/multimedia company. Along with creating audio and video content for many clients, I create numerous transformative works in my private time. I also handle social media and website duties for a number of large clients. Within the website duties, I carry the duty of maintaining the copyright accounts for some of my clients, and use the DMCA law to takedown content from various "third party sites" (YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, et cetera) that random individuals have uploaded.

How I use the DMCA law: When I make use of the DMCA law, I obey a strict set of rules for third party sites:

  • If a media clip is a straight copy of an audio or video item that has been released, that clip will be removed. These are usually straight rips of home video releases, or content taken from a client's website and re-uploaded by a random individual.
  • If a media clip is an example of transformative work (slideshow, remix, et cetera), that clip will be allowed to stay.

Media companies use the DMCA law differently:

  • If a third party website allows ads to be placed on media, like YouTube, the media company will sometimes apply an ad to the media. This ad generates money for the media company, which is rarely seen by the actual artists who are the subject of the uploaded media. On many occasions, I have witnessed media companies try to put ads on fan uploaded content that said media companies had zero rights to claim or monetize.
  • If a third party website does not allow ads to be placed on media, like Vimeo and Soundcloud, the media companies will outright claim a DMCA violation, and have the content removed. I have personally been the victim of this on multiple occasions.
  • A media company will sometimes make such blind, sweeping claims of DMCA violations that it affects artists who possess the actual rights to upload their own content. One of my clients fell victim to this, having a music video removed shortly after being uploaded.

Media companies use the DMCA law on third party websites with zero accountability. Their end goal is simply to monetize all content, or remove it from the internet, under the guise of DMCA violations. This is a grotesque abuse of the DMCA, which - in regards to the internet - is supposed to be used for copyright infringement. Pirate copies of audio and video media is a violation of copyright, and should be removed. Transformative works, which aim to create new content from existing content, should NOT be removed by the DMCA. Transformative works are unique reinterpretations of existing work, uploaded for free (not for profit) to the internet. That is fair use!

Recently, Harvard Law Professor William Fisher gave a lecture on music copyright, which was uploaded to YouTube. Towards the end the 24 minute lecture, Mr. Fisher had played a few sound recording clips to demonstrate a point about cover songs. Even though "fair use" clearly protects this video, Sony still felt the need to remove the video from YouTube. This is a perfect example of DMCA violation abuse, either by manual claim or by using a "ContentID" system. The full story: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160214/08293233599/sony-music-issues-takedown-copyright-lecture-about-music-copyrights-harvard-law-professor.shtml

As a person who has created many transformative works that have been removed from third party sites by media companies, this abuse of the DMCA law affects me directly. I don't have the finances to fight large legal battles with media companies for the rights of fair use for transformative work.

The existing DMCA law has to be amended to allow for transformative works. I can not speak for all creators of transformative work, but the media I create is made from the heart. I respect the original creators, and am not trying to cause them harm. In fact, many artists have promoted my transformations of their original works online.

I pay for my own web server, and freely give away my creations. I do not do what I do to generate income, or infringe. I do what I do out of love for music and film. When Los Angeles radio stations play my work, there are no consequences for those stations. Why should free play on the internet be any different?

I appreciate the positive comments and coverage from print and online media regarding my work (including Rolling Store, Wired, Spin, Digg, Stereogum and others), but with rampant abuse of the DMCA law, my work is getting harder to see. For now, my work can be heard here: http://www.bratproductions.com/

I respect the necessity to stop actual piracy, but punishing those of us who transform media is unacceptable! Allow us to create, without fear of legal retribution!

Thank you for the opportunity to be heard, and I sincerely hope that my voice will help in making changes to the existing DMCA law.

 

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