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The RIAA wants internet companies to begin filtering pirated content

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Industry groups say current DMCA takedown process is ‘burdensome’ and ‘ineffective’ in letter to Copyright Office

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The Recording Industy Association of America (RIAA) and 14 other groups have called for stronger regulations that would require internet service providers (ISPs) to block pirated content, in a bid to reform a takedown system that the groups describe as “antiquated.” As Ars Technica reports, the RIAA outlined its proposal in a letter last week to the US Copyright Office, weeks after the US ended its six-strike Copyright Alert System because it was deemed ineffective at deterring piracy.

The groups say that the “burdensome” takedown process outlined under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has led to "an endless game of whack-a-mole" that has obliged rights holders to file repeated takedown requests with ISPs. The current system obliges ISPs to “expeditiously” remove pirated content after receiving a notice, and grants them legal protection in copyright infringement cases.

The RIAA and other groups are calling on regulators to implement a more precise time frame for ISPs to remove pirated content. They also proposed mandating filters and automated identification systems that would prevent flagged content from being uploaded again.

That would place more of a burden on ISPs and web companies, and it could pose technical challenges. As Ars Technica reports, Google told the Copyright Office last week that 99 percent of the links it was requested to take down last month “were not in our search index in the first place.” As Gizmodo points out, that’s partly due to the fact that some rights holders have begun automating their takedown requests. YouTube, Facebook, and other sites currently use automated systems like ContentID to thwart copyright violations.

The RIAA and other content rights holders have long pushed for filtering systems online. In the letter sent last week, the groups dismissed concerns that such systems could lead to broader censorship and the removal of content that is protected under fair use.

“Several service providers and their associations also claim that automated content identification technologies would result in censorship of non-infringing works erroneously caught by the technology, such as fair use works,” the letter reads. “That concern is greatly exaggerated in an attempt to avoid any obligation to employ content identification technologies. As the Consumer Technology Association readily admits, modern automated systems can be calibrated to protect likely fair uses.”