Congress designed copyright law to promote innovation by rewarding creators with exclusive rights. Unfortunately, major rightsholders like music publishers have pushed these rights so far into the digital realm that they jeopardize the very creators and consumers the law was meant to protect — even stifling lawful activities like remixing content or repairing devices.
Copyright law has grown into a clunky, convoluted system that prevents people without legal training from understanding what they can and can’t create or share. This gives corporate rightsholders the power to slap online creators with takedown notices courtesy of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a law meant to modernize copyright for the digital age. Creators often lack the resources to appeal these takedowns. In practice, the DMCA limits how creators express themselves — or outright silences them.
The DMCA also prohibits ordinary activities in the digital world. We can’t share things as we once did, and we don’t own our digital copies — we license them. This hurts libraries and other public institutions by preventing them from purchasing, sharing, or preserving creative works for the future.
Our devices are also digital. This means that we must break digital locks to repair, and sometimes even fully use, our devices. To do that lawfully, the Copyright Office has to grant an exemption, which only lasts three years. The DMCA doesn’t help creators or consumers adapt to the digital world; it makes everything worse.
Public Knowledge works to create a copyright system that recognizes the role that technology plays in our everyday lives. We support the public’s right to remix content into new expressions or create or share lawful content online. We advocate for policies that protect innovation without constraining fair use. We urge Congress to fix the DMCA so that consumers can own, lend, or repair their devices.