Last week, 78 stakeholders submitted comments to the Department of Commerce on policy raised in its recent Green paper Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy.
The Green Paper makes a number of recommendations that fall into three broad categories;
“1) updating the balance of rights and exceptions… 2) assessing and improving enforcement tools to combat online infringement and promote the growth of legitimate services while preserving the essential functioning of the Internet… 3) Realizing the potential of the Internet as a legitimate marketplace for copyrighted works and as a vehicle for streamlining licensing.” (For a slightly more detailed list, see pages 3 and 4 of the executive summary)
The paper will be the topic of a public meeting at the US Patent and Trademark Office on December 12. The comments received are posted here. Below are excerpts from some of the comments received:
Comment by Mark Cooper for the Consumer Federation of America, describing the findings of his organizations’ report on the transformation/digitization of the music industry:
“efforts to expand copyrights and enforcement mechanisms, based on claims of rampant piracy, which has been the dominant orientation of copyright policy for the past two decades, are not supported by empirical evidence. On the contrary, digital disintermediation has created a much more efficient, consumer-friendly music sector that has eliminated anti-consumer and anti-competitive practices, wrung out excess profits created by the abuse of market power of a highly concentrated music sector, and replaced it with a more efficient, consumer and artist friendly ecology that is coming into economic equilibrium.”
this is a very concrete practical problem of manufacturers attempting to leverage the copyright in a component into perpetual control over a much larger device. At present, primarily manufacturers of computer and telecommunications equipment misuse software license agreements to interfere with resale. Yet as more products are distributed with pre-installed software, such as cars and consumer appliances, this problem will become more widespread. The solution to this problem is a simple amendment stating that the statutory rights provided under Title 17 apply to lawful possessors of software when that software is pre-installed in other products, and that these rights cannot be waived by contract. We urge the Department to support such an amendment.
Fair use and other limitations and exceptions to copyright offer a crucial check on the exclusive rights provided to authors under U.S. copyright law. These exceptions to copyright law are important not only because as a practical matter, only a small fraction of copyrighted works will ever be covered by Creative Commons (or other open) licenses, but also because the Internet culture has changed the way copyrighted material is viewed. A legal framework can only be successful if it establishes default conditions that are regarded as appropriate by the community whose activities it applies to.