Sen. Thom Tillis Drafts New Bill to Overhaul Copyright Office and DMCA

Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) has proposed a reform to the existing Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) with a newly released draft of legislation called the Digital Copyright Act of 2021 (DCA). Calling the DMCA “antiquated” and “past-due for modernization,” the senator’s newly proposed legislation would involve an overhaul of the Copyright Office as it exists today, by moving it from the Library of Congress to the purview of the Department of Commerce and installing a presidentially appointed Register of Copyrights to oversee the new executive branch agency.

The proposed language in the new legislation would let federal agencies establish “standard technical measures” that online service providers would have to accommodate or adopt with regard to copyright infringement. The draft also notably lowers “the specificity with which copyright owners must identify infringing material in certain circumstances” and suggests “replacing the notice-and-takedown system in existing law with a notice-and-staydown system for complete and near complete works.”

Tillis has invited content creators, companies, digital media platforms, and other parties who would be affected by this legislation to submit their comments to Comments close on March 5, 2021. Read the full text of the drafted legislation here.

Thom Tillis spearheaded the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act, the bipartisan legislation that targets “commercial, for-profit streaming piracy services” and would make the operation of such services a felony crime. The bill recently passed through Congress as part of the latest spending bill, which included coronavirus relief measures.

An announcement from Tillis’ office stated that the proposed legislation would not cover “normal practices by online service providers, good faith business disputes, noncommercial activities, or in any way impact individuals who access pirated streams or unwittingly stream unauthorized copies of copyrighted works,” and that individuals who might utilize pirate streaming services “will not be affected.”


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