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Broadway is the cultural epicenter of theatre arts. While Broadway performances are internationally known and hugely profitable, they remain inaccessible to a significant number of fans. The inability to bear the increasing costs of travel, lodging, and tickets leads many fans to turn to bootlegs. Bootlegs are illegal recordings of live performances. They are widely viewed and shared online, and uploaders purposefully work to obscure the illegality of these recordings, allowing them to evade tools designed to combat copyright infringement.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), enacted in 1998, amended U.S. copyright law to attempt to prevent digital copyright infringement. However, with the rapid growth of technology and the internet, the Act has begun to show its age. In 2020, the U.S. Copyright Office published a report that recommended updates to the DMCA. These recommendations call for Congress to fine-tune the statute’s current operation by clarifying certain provisions, modifying statutory standards, facilitating voluntary initiatives, and more.

This Note dissects these recommendations and discusses which would be most effective in countering bootlegs and protecting theatre rightsholders. The Copyright Office recommends voluntary efforts by online service providers, but it seems unlikely that these providers would willingly participate in initiatives that expose them to legal liability. Ultimately, this Note concludes that the recommendations that suggest concrete changes to statutory language would be most effective in countering the spread of bootlegs.

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