Standard Technical Measures and Section 512

The U.S. Copyright Office’s 2020 report, Section 512 of Title 17, examined section 512’s “safe harbor” framework, which limits an internet service provider’s liability for infringement if the provider meets certain conditions. One of these conditions is that the internet service provider “accommodates and does not interfere with standard technical measures” to identify or protect copyrighted works. In September 2020, the Copyright Office held virtual stakeholder discussions covering the legal foundation of standard technical measures (STMs), current technologies and their potential for adoption as STMs, and means of identifying or developing STMs going forward. In June 2021, Senators Thom Tillis and Patrick Leahy asked the Office to further explore the identification and implementation of STMs under section 512(i).

Building on the Section 512 Report and in response to the Senators' request, the U.S. Copyright Office issued a Federal Register notice gathering additional information on the development and use of standard technical measures for the protection of copyrighted works, as defined in section 512 of Title 17. Public comments to enhance the public record and to advise Congress were due on May 27, 2022.

This Notice of Inquiry on standard technical measures as defined in section 512(i) is separate from and complements the Office’s consultations on voluntarily deployed technical measures for identifying or protecting copyrighted works online, announced in the Federal Register on December 22, 2021, with the opening plenary session held on February 22, 2022. Whereas the consultations focus on the voluntary development of technical measures to identify and protect copyrighted works online generally, this Notice of Inquiry focuses on standard technical measures as defined in section 512(i) specifically. The Office is seeking information on issues arising under the current statutory framework.