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The NFL, NBA, and UFC want to rewrite the laws for fast DMCA takedowns

The NFL, NBA, and UFC want to rewrite the laws for fast DMCA takedowns


Sports organizations believe the US Patent and Trademark Office works too slowly when taking down illegal livestreams and want to rewrite the law to make the process faster.

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The NFL, NBA, and UFC are looking to inject some urgency into the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to have the law shut down illegal livestreams sooner. The sports organizations believe that the law needs to define more specifically how quickly a DMCA takedown notice should take effect, according to a letter they sent to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) seen by TorrentFreak.

DMCA was signed during the Clinton administration in 1998 and specified that takedown notices be processed “expeditiously,” as written in Section 512 of the act. In the letter sent to the USPTO, dated August 23rd, the NFL, NBA, and UFC urge the government to change the “expeditiously” verbiage to “instantaneously or near-instantaneously.”

When I watch an NFL game streaming on YouTube TV, it’s generally over in a little over three hours. If I were to look for an out-of-market stream of a certain game and find one not authorized by the NFL, it probably would finish before a DMCA takedown is completed — which is what the sports organizations are arguing.

“This would be a relatively modest and non-controversial update to the DMCA”

“This would be a relatively modest and non-controversial update to the DMCA that could be included in the broader reforms being considered by Congress or could be addressed separately,” the letter from the NFL, NBA, and UFC reads. It also points out that online service providers take hours or even days before removing content in response to takedown notices.

The organizations also want to see online service providers implement user verifications before allowing livestream broadcasts, which they believe could stop illegal sports streams stemming from newly made user accounts. It specifically calls out people using their smartphone camera to capture footage from a TV screen and stream it live.

Additionally, the letter cites that the “global sports industry is losing up to $28 billion in additional potential annual revenue” since those who watch pirated streams continue to view them successfully and have no reason to switch to a, well, expensive paid stream or subscription.

The NFL, NBA, and UFC say some livestreams look “indistinguishable from the legitimate feed,” which is an amazing feat if it exists. But the organizations are reckoning with a new technological era where livestreams are easier to do than ever, which was never imagined in 1998. Some companies, like YouTube, seem to take videos down faster than others.

Takedowns have been abused by corporations as well. While the three sports organizations are focused on video streaming, DMCA takedowns don’t just affect the entertainment space. For instance, small online clothing resellers have dealt with manufacturers sending takedowns under the guise of IP infringement so they don’t have to compete with lightly used and inexpensive clothing. If takedowns occurred “instantaneously,” many businesses could shut down quickly with no easy way to reopen.

While the NFL, NBA, and UFC would love the law to change in an instant, right now, all they have is a letter to the USPTO — so they’ll have to wait on the government to take action for a long while on this one, too.