9 August 2021CopyrightRory O'Neill

Congress demands answers over Twitter’s copyright policies

US Congress members have written to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey demanding that the platform do more to tackle copyright infringement on the platform.

In the letter, 22 members from both sides of the House of Representatives expressed concern that musicians were not being paid fairly for the use of their work on the platform.

“Creative content drives engagement on Twitter, yet unlike numerous other platforms, Twitter has not acquired licenses necessary to ensure that all creators are properly compensated for use of their works,” said the letter, which is seeking a response by August 27.

“Given the pervasiveness of this issue, we would like to have a better understanding of how Twitter intends to effectively address these concerns,” it added.

“Additional infringing content almost certainly goes undiscovered as Twitter has taken the unprecedented step of charging creators for a fully functional search API that can identify instances of infringement at scale,” the representatives continued.

The Congress members explicitly criticised Twitter’s Tip Jar feature, which allows users to donate electronic payments to artists. According to the letter, Twitter should instead take licences to the works.

Twitter’s current policy “demonstrates a lack of understanding and respect for the rights holders involved in the content posted on Twitter,” it said, adding: “A more targeted measure that would indeed help its users benefit from their creativity, would be for the company to pay to license the content on its platform.”

Music labels and rights owners have been speaking out about the unlicensed use of their works on social media platforms. Publishers had previously written to Congress in 2019 calling for an investigation into TikTok, alleging the Chinese-owned platform had “consistently violated US copyright law” by allowing users to share copyright-protected music.

Twitch has also been hit with a wave of Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices from record labels who say the platform hasn’t taken the appropriate licenses for its “Soundtrack” tool.

YouTube has also overhauled its infringement-detection systems, in an effort to keep frustrated creators and rights owners onside.

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