The Electronic Frontier Foundation has just unveiled their Takedown Hall of Shame, which highlights examples of copyright law being used to suppress political commentary and creative expression. Many of the examples involve abuses of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), whose takedown provisions encourage Internet hosting companies to remove content on the mere assertion of infringement by a copyright holder.
The EFF’s list focuses on corporate takedown notices, but it’s important to understand that it’s not only corporations that suppress speech via copyright law. The copyright monopoly system encourages people to do it to each other too; we’ve collected some examples of that.
So what’s the solution?
The real solution is radical reform of copyright law (there are plenty of alternatives). But even without that, there’s still an easy solution: fix the DMCA to have a penalty for delivering improper takedown notices. Say, a penalty of five years off the copyright term of the covered work, for each wrong notice sent about that work. Content monopolists would start being a lot more careful if they had something to lose when they get a takedown notice wrong.