Home – Internet Task Force Pursues Balance Between Data Free Flow and Protections for Copyrighted Innovation

Internet Task Force Pursues Balance Between Data Free Flow and Protections for Copyrighted Innovation

 The Internet Policy Task Force, made up of several parts of the U.S. Department of Commerce, issued a report this summer identifying “leading public policy and operational challenges in the digital economy,” and providing approaches designed to “strengthen protections for consumer data privacy, enhance cybersecurity practices, safeguard the global free flow of information, and ensure balanced and meaningful protection for intellectual property.”  The approaches outlined in the 121-page report were developed with the preservation of the  “dynamic innovation and growth that have made the Internet and digital technology so important to our economy and society,” the report says.


Established in April 2010 by then-Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, the Task Force engaged technical, policy, trade, economic and legal expertise from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the International Trade Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Economic and Statistics Administration. Public comments also were considered in drafting the recommendations, the Task Force said.


Economic Driver,  Image Shaper


In her introduction, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker underscores the importance of the Task Force’s mission by citing a  2012 Commerce Department economic study which showed that “intellectual-property intensive industries” account for “tens of millions of jobs and several trillion dollars of our GDP.”


Beyond the economic benefits, Secretary Pritzker writes, the nation’s artists and creators “make up the lifeblood of our culture, build new stores of knowledge, and shape how we see

ourselves—and how the world sees us as well.” 


Ensuring that U.S. copyright policy provides strong incentives for creativity and innovation is critical, the report’s authors say, noting the many new wrinkles the advent of the free-flowing Internet have added to copyright protection.  “Some would argue that copyright protection and the free flow of information are inextricably at odds—that copyright enforcement will diminish the innovative information-disseminating power of the Internet, or that policies promoting the free flow of information will lead to the downfall of copyright. Such a pessimistic view is unwarranted. The ultimate goal is to find, as then-Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke explained, ‘the sweet spot on Internet policy—one that ensures the Internet remains an engine of creativity and innovation; and a place where we do a better job protecting against piracy of copyrighted works.’”


The Task Force’s recommendations come in three categories.


Updating the balance of rights and exceptions. “The Task Force urges Congress to better rationalize the public performance right for sound recordings. We reiterate the Administration’s support for extending the right to cover broadcasting, and urge that any reassessment of the appropriateness of different rate-setting standards for different types of digital music services take into account the impact on creators and right holders as well as on different types of services. The Task Force will solicit public comment and convene roundtables on issues related to the creation of remixes and the first sale doctrine in the digital environment. The Task Force will support and provide input to the Copyright Office as it moves forward with its work on updating the library exception in Section 108 and examining the issues of orphan works and mass digitization.”


Assessing and improving enforcement tools to combat online infringement

and promote the growth of legitimate services while preserving the essential

functioning of the Internet. “The Task Force repeats the Administration’s prior call for Congress to enact legislation adopting the same range of penalties for criminal streaming of copyrighted works to the public as now exists for criminal reproduction and distribution. The Task Force will solicit public comment and convene roundtables regarding the application of statutory damages in the context of individual file-sharers and secondary liability for large-scale online infringement. The Task Force will establish a multi-stakeholder dialogue on how to improve the operation of the DMCA’s notice and takedown system. The Task Force supports the Copyright Office’s improvement of the DMCA database of designated agents, as well as its examination of possible small claims procedures that can assist individual creators and

SMEs in enforcing their rights online. The Task Force supports and encourages the development of appropriate voluntary private sector initiatives to improve online enforcement, and will monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of such initiatives to determine whether additional action should be considered. The Task Force encourages enhancing public education and outreach efforts to inform consumers about both rights and exceptions and to encourage the use of legitimate online services.”


Realizing the potential of the Internet as a legitimate marketplace for copyrighted works and as a vehicle for streamlining licensing. “The Task Force will provide input into any Congressional review of music licensing, particularly with respect to the mechanical license for musical compositions. The Task Force supports the Copyright Office’s work in improving the registration and recordation systems and supports the provision of enhanced incentives for using these systems. The Task Force will solicit public comment and convene roundtables regarding an appropriate role for the government, if any, to help to improve the online licensing environment.”


The complete PDF version of the report can be downloaded at: http://www.uspto.gov/news/publications/copyrightgreenpaper.pdf

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual sources referenced and do not reflect the views, opinions or policies of the organizations the sources represent.