Established in 1998, the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a U.S. copyright law that criminalizes production and sharing of technology that may be used to bypass control of copyrighted works. The act is geared towards illegal file-sharing of copyrighted works and has led to settlements crippling single mothers and college students alike. Established in 1998, the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a U.S. copyright law that criminalizes production and sharing of technology that may be used to bypass control of copyrighted works. The act is geared towards illegal file-sharing of copyrighted works and has led to settlements crippling single mothers and college students alike.
The European Union followed suit in 2001 with its own version of the DMCA, called the EU Copyright Directive, which also holds internet providers accountable for their users’ activities. According to a recent American Songwriter report, “Canadian officials have also made adjustments to their own laws. New legislation will include provisions to target users with a $500 fine for each illegal file transferred online.”
But has this legislation done any good, and does it monitor and target the right groups and infractions? According to a recent survey conducted by England’s University of Hertfordshire, the average digital music player belonging to a teenager or college student contains more than 800 illegally copied songs. The research showed that half of 14 to 24-year olds were happy to share all the music on their hard drives, enabling others to copy hundreds and thousands of songs at any one time.
Some in the music industry were surprised by the findings. Fergal Sharkey, former lead singer of the Undertones and now Chief executive of British Music Rights, admitted he “was one of those people who went around the back of the bike shed with songs [he] had taped off the radio the night before. But this totally dwarfs that, and anything we expected.”
The study suggests that about 48 percent of the average digital collection is copied illegally, while the number of pirated tracks rises to 61 percent among 14-17 year olds. In addition, it found that 14 percent of the CDs in an average young person’s collection-one in seven-have been illegally copied.
According to British Music Rights, the solution to the problem partly lies in developing new legal services that make breaking copyright unappealing. One idea in the U.K. has been to persuade internet service providers to sign up for a new type of music service, in which vast catalogues of songs are available as an add-on fee to a broadband package.
French officials have also been spinning their wheels-Orange, France Telecom’s mobile arm, reached an agreement with all four main record companies to provide downloads of more than a million songs to mobile phones and home computers for a little under $20 (€12, or £9.40) a month.
Not happy findings for recording artists or the music industry in general.