Over the past weeks dozens of companies and organizations have shared their concerns regarding the current state of the DMCA copyright law.
The responses are part of a consultation launched by the U.S. Copyright Office. Most focus on the effectiveness of the notice and takedown model, and the response of anti-piracy firm CEG TEK International zooms in on how ISPs handle these notices.
The company is well-known for its collaboration with adult video companies, for which it targets individual Internet subscribers with settlement requests. These requests are sent through DMCA notifications, commonly demanding a few hundred dollars.
Some ISPs forward these requests but most large providers have chosen not to do so. This is problematic for CEG TEK as it hurts their business model.
“The problem is the roadblocks to enforcement of copyrights that are put up by online service providers to protect their relationships with their infringing customers,” CEG TEK’s attorney writes.
The anti-piracy outfit points out that they, and others, can easily track the IP-addresses of pirates. But, without cooperation from ISPs this information isn’t very helpful.
“Unfortunately, the ISPs, who rake in millions, and probably billions, of dollars from their infringing customers, do not voluntarily disclose the infringer’s identities,” CEG TEK notes.
Under the DMCA, Internet providers are not required to forward all notices of claimed copyright infringement. CEG TEK recommends changing towards Canada’s model instead, where subscribers must be notified.
“Canada’s ISPs forward such notices at no charge to copyright owners. Setting up forwarding systems is relatively easy and inexpensive, and is similar to ISPs normal bill-forwarding systems,” the company notes .
In this case, CEG TEK would like U.S. ISPs to forward their “bills,” but there is more.
In addition to a forwarding requirement the anti-piracy firm also suggests the introduction of statutory damages for Internet providers, requiring them to pay $30 each time a subscriber doesn’t stop sharing pirated content.
“By statute require ISPs to pay copyright owners $30 for each notice of claimed infringement sent with respect to an Internet account having repeat infringements,” the suggestion reads.
The submission is written by CEG TEK attorney Ira Siegel, who also represented several rightsholders in various lawsuits against “John Doe” BitTorrent users, as copyright troll watcher FCT points out.
Siegel’s “trolling” connection is relevant as he also proposes several changes to the DMCA in order to make it easier to identify pirates through courts. Among other things, CEG TEK suggests allowing mass-BitTorrent lawsuits, in which tens of thousands of IP-addresses can be grouped (joined) in one complaint.
Such a change would make it cheaper to uncover the identity of alleged infringers, as rightsholders would only have to pay a single filing fee.
The proposals put forward by CEG TEK are among the most far-reaching we’ve seen thus far. They also directly oppose comments made by the U.S. broadband association USTelecom, which asked the copyright office to stop “abusive” notices that include settlement demands.