Comments for the U.S. Copyright Office study of the "safe harbors" of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) were due February 21, and dozens of media and technology companies and organizations dutifully submitted filings. In what may be a first, however, a few dozen musicians also signed a video message that was submitted to the government on their behalf.
Unlike most such filings, which tend to consist of pages of anecdotes and arguments, the video -- titled "YouTube Can Do Better" -- couldn't be much simpler. Over a half-minute of silence, white letters against a black background spell out "Dear U.S. Copyright Office," then the names of the few dozen acts who endorsed the message, then "YouTube Can Do Better." It doesn't directly mention the Copyright Office's study of the DMCA safe harbors. The list of acts is wide-ranging, including The Black Keys, Cee Lo Green, Evanescence, John Mellencamp, Rush, T Bone Burnett, and many more.
"I'm a lawyer but I didn't want to do the same thing as everyone else, where I'm submitting pages of comments," says Kendall Minter, an entertainment lawyer who helped organize the video. (Minter represents Roy Ayers, Jermaine Dupri, and Dionne Warwick, among others.) "We're living in a social media age -- people spend more time looking at Instagram than they do reading."