Just a few weeks after settling a copyright infringement against California Republican senatorial candidate Chuck DeVore, musician Don Henley lashed out at the current state of copyright laws in the U.S.
Henley settled his lawsuit over the unauthorized use of two songs— All She Wants to Do Is Dance and The Boys of Summer— with DeVore for an undisclosed amount of money. DeVore had claimed that the versions he used were parodies, but a judge ruled that the politician’s use did infringe on Henley’s copyrights.
The whole situation must have soured Henley. When asked by Rolling Stone what needs to be changed about U.S. enforcement of copyright, Henley answered:
While the onus of legally pursuing infringement has always been on copyright owners, the U.S. Copyright Office clearly has not been a strong enough advocate for copyright owners, particularly when you look at its most recent decisions.
Because the Copyright Office is a part of the Library of Congress, and the mission of a library is to provide free access to the public, there is an inherent conflict of interest. Perhaps the time has come to separate these institutions so that they are not at cross-purposes.
Henley continued, offering his view on how to fight online copyright infringement:
Congress should amend the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), eliminating or dramatically limiting the Safe Harbor provisions so that ISPs [Internet service providers] and websites such as YouTube, MySpace and Facebook have legal liability for hosting infringing content.
The recording industry was bullied by online retailers into removing protective measures, such as DRM, from their sound recordings or else facing the prospect of these retailers refusing to distribute their catalogs. Yet, so far, digital royalties on music have failed to live up to the hype; in fact, removing such protective measures has increased the theft of music and other intellectual property.