RIAA bemoans the DMCA's lack of teeth

The RIAA's top litigator, Jennifer Pariser, has claimed that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act needs tweaking in her group's favour following a series of court decisions which she argues dilute a key portion of the law's power.

The DMCA is a key tool used by the RIAA and the MPAA - the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, who lobby and litigate on behalf of the US music and film industries respectively - to clamp down on illicit file sharing and copying.

Often seen as draconian in nature - especially given the portion of the Act that makes it illegal to bypass copy protection or digital restrictions management functionality even for fair use purposes - the RIAA is seemingly pushing for still more power.

"I think Congress got it right, but I think the courts are getting it wrong," Jennifer Pariser told attendees of the NY Entertainment and Technology Law Conference late last week. "I think the courts are interpreting Congress' statute in a manner that is entirely too restrictive of content owners' rights and too open to [internet] service providers.

"We might need to go to Congress at some point for a fix," Pariser added. "Not because the statute was badly drafted but because the interpretation has been so hamstrung by court decisions."

The decisions Pariser is referring to have culminated in case law placing the onus of hunting down copyright content on the content owners themselves, rather than on service providers such as ISPs and file sharing services. This is an unfair burden, the RIAA argues, and one that the courts should never have placed on its shoulders.

CNET, which was present at the event, reports that Pariser went on to clarify that the RIAA has not yet started lobbying for amendments to the DMCA and has no immediate plans to do so - but her comments make it clear that the group is unhappy with the way things stand at present.