Public Drafting Process for the DMCA Cooperation Pledge

by Bradley M. Kuhn on November 30, 2020

In my blog post two weeks ago, I proposed — in light of increased DMCA takedowns against FOSS projects (and relatedly, increased enforcement of 17USC§1201) — that we ask for-profit copyright holders to agree to a pledge similar to GPLv3§8¶3. Simply put, proprietary copyright holders should be equally as reasonable as GPL copyright holders are and give FOSS projects 30 days to negotiate and discuss copyright infringement allegations before triggering a de-facto injuction with the DMCA.

I admit that I thought it unlikely that any for-profit companies would even be willing to discuss the possibility of making such a pledge; my proposal was more thought experiment than actual policy. I was however pleasantly surprised to receive positive feedback from at least four companies as well as interest from another non-profit organization who is excited about the idea.

After both internal discussion and external discussion with these parties, we feel that now that the project has moved from thought experiment to real potential policy, that we should move the discussion public. It's just in our DNA at Conservancy to act transparently and welcome stakeholders into public discourse about policies. Moreover, these sorts of industry pledges and assurances have historically been drafted in secrecy by a few companies and then put forward as a fait accompli to the FOSS community. We'd like to change that tendency in this process.

Today, we created a Git repository and a mailing list for this project. We welcome anyone interested in the proposal of this pledge to join the mailing list and propose a patchset or just generally write up suggestions. Folks participating need not and do not in our view bind their company to the pledge; rather, we're looking for wide input on what the text needs to say to make it most likely that organizations will agree to the pledge.

Tags: conservancy, law, licensing

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