Administration Asks For Public Input On Intellectual Property Enforcement

from the hopefully-they'll-listen dept

As part of the mis-named ProIP act, the newly created IP Enforcement Coordinator (generally called the IP Czar) is supposed to help figure out what an effective “intellectual property enforcement strategy” would be. While we have questions about why this position or this plan is really needed in the first place, here’s a bit of good news: rather than just doing the typical consult with industry lobbyists, the administration is, again, asking for public comment (pdf):

This request for comments and for recommendations for an improved enforcement strategy is divided into two parts. In the first, the IPEC seeks written submissions from the public regarding the costs to the U.S. economy resulting from intellectual property violations, and the threats to public health and safety created by infringement. In the second part, the IPEC requests detailed recommendations from the public regarding the objectives and content of the Joint Strategic Plan and other specific recommendations for improving the Government’s intellectual property enforcement efforts. Responses to this request for comments may be directed to either of these two parts, or both, and may include a response to one or more requests for information found in either part.

The link above has more details, and the comments are due by Wednesday, March 24, 2010.

Now, I know when I posted my comments submitted to the USTR about the Special 301 process, a number of commenters wondered if the USTR would care, or even bother to look at, let alone consider, comments from the public beyond industry lobbyists. It is a valid concern. And while I do still wonder how much public comments will play a role in the actual strategy (compared to industry responses), in this case, the IPEC specifically reached out to Techdirt to let us know about this request for comment, to see if we would be interested in alerting our readers of their opportunity to take part. Now, the cynical response is that this is just window dressing — and it’s a lot easier to ask for comments from the public than to listen to them, but the fact that they are specifically reaching out to this community (among others) at least suggests an interest in what folks here might have to say. With that in mind, I’m hopeful that some of you will take the time to submit thoughtful comments on the subject.

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Comments on “Administration Asks For Public Input On Intellectual Property Enforcement”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“threats to public health and safety created by infringement.”

Lol wut?

He would have had a point if he was referring to physical counterfeit goods, but infringement includes copying digital files which are normally perfect copies of the original and thus do not pose a threat to anyone but seekers of monopoly rents.

Designerfx (profile) says:

from what I read

the questions are the wrong questions asked, and the whole thing is misleading. I don’t see an actual topic they asked a question on that is actually constructive.

It’s like “how can we better enforce ACTA and border patrols?” “how can we better protect intellectual property?” “how can we protect IP in other countries”. None of that is productive questions to ask about IP enforcement. I think there are productive answers that can be given, but I find it highly unlikely.

So I think they set this up to deliberately ignore the public and make a false sense of transparency here.

If someone says “get rid of IP” or anything that results in showing that IP is the wrong focus, I think the response will be tossed aside/ignored.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“I find it encouraging that they are at least aware of communities like Techdirt.”

Mikes Blog and our comments and views are being echoed around the world. I found some pieces of my comments from here on sites in Australia, the US, Canada, and the UK. In some minor way they want to show they are reaching out to the community. They have more than likely reached out to the EFF, Public Knowledge, etc also.

If you read the Request for comments it has nothing to do with what should be done to create a more fair and balanced IP system. It has to do with allowing Pharma and the media distribution industry to comment on enforcement, Rationalization of stronger IP laws, and educating the public using material designed by these industries.

Basically its where the industries mentioned in the request for comment get to request what they want as a lead up to ACTA.

As I said this is going to be (and is) fun to watch …

Flaky says:

IP Enforcement?

I gotta tell ya, that I am preaching to the choir here but my first thought is why more protection.

Beyond the IP copyright holders all getting together to have a drum beating session every week for a couple of years, I don’t see much in the line of even desiring to seek public opinion.

The purpose of copyright was to protect for a limited time the right to distribute. That right has been done to death until nothing last year made it into public domain. Absolutely nothing.

For years and years, every new technology has had the IP protection gang quaking in their boots that it was the latest version of (what was that phrase} Boston Strangler, only to find later down the road when they did not get all the things they asked for in legal protections they could actually work with it and yes, even thrive on the brave new world.

Yet here we are, with all of them once again holding out their hands and claiming the death knell is being heard. Movies did great last year. The best ever in fact in it’s history.

The only problem with the music industry isn’t that P2P is killing them, it’s greed and the unwillingness to accept anything short of an arm and a leg to do it legal. At any time they could again be rolling in the dough simply by opening up the licensing requirements. Yet this is never, ever, considered. Only thing considered is how much aid can we get, how much sympathy can we squeeze, and how much will it cost to butter the coffers of the congress critter that will swing influence to get what we desire.

I am indeed sorry that I don’t have a lot of solutions to lay out beyond this is the first time in a long time that the government has bent over backwards to give all (or nearly all) desired and yet through this whole process, the public has been enemy #1. No input, no questions asked till it’s done, and I’m sorry but this looks to be nothing but a sham with what I have seen in the news going on. I have at this point absolutely no faith that anything the public puts forth will have any bearing on the results.

The last time, when Joe Biden had his little meeting with all the heads of industry that brought this little office to a head, it was billed as wanting public input. Yet when it came down to it, it was a closed door, no public invited, and certainly no news reporting.

If you get the idea that I am fed up with the goings on, you are very correct. If it comes through the print that I am beyond disgusted with the way IP property has been treated in this country, especially considering that copyright’s end retainer is not some business making money but rather a trust for the public’s welfare, then the past 20 to 30 years has been nothing if not that sham.

Corelain says:

Spatter patterns

Why does this read kind of like the guy in the hockey mask asking you whether you feel the axe or the chainsaw leaves a nicer spatter pattern? Then he wants you to explain why you feel like you’ve never spent enough quality time inside a running wood chipper… But you can’t complain, after all you were given plenty of opportunities to contribute to the process!

Anonymous Coward says:

BTW, has anyone heard that one health freedom advocate might be sentenced like 24 (or was it 48) months in jail for revealing the E-Mail address of a senator? who wanted to pass some bill that violates our health freedoms (this was in the U.S)? Apparently the official didn’t like the thousands upon thousands of E – Mails tell him not to pass the bill from the public, which overflowed his inbox, and instead of going after everyone demanding that our health freedoms not be taken away, law enforcement went after the person that leaked the E – Mail address.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

N/m, I got the story wrong. Here is the story.

“The Natural Solutions Foundation IS the Voice of Global Health Freedom™. The FDA would clearly rather that we have no hope, no communication system, no health options other than dangerous drugs and no voice. Like him or not, Kevin Trudea speaks up loud and clear for that which he believes. He believes in natural cures. His speech, like yours, is protected by the First Amendment. Or so you would think. Kevin is facing a $37 million dollar fine because he told people that his diet plan was “easy” and Judge Gettleman says it is not “easy” — without, of course, trying it. And he is facing a month in jail NOW because he asked his supporters to tell Judge Gettleman about their diet experience and their support for Kevin. 300 people used the Judge’s public email address, it is said, “crashing” the emai system. That so enraged the judge that he sentenced Trudeau to 30 days in jail! Is it possible to “crash” an email system with a few hundred emails? Of course not. And even if it were, it’s still free speech, just like it was when you “crashed” the FDA’s comment system in 2007 with 198,000 emails, stopping the agency’s anti-CAM gudiance.”

If he was merely giving his opinion about how he thinks people should diet, then this is completely unacceptable for the court system to do, though I’m not sure if he was selling something.

Karl Fogel (profile) says:


I wonder if they’ll also take “written submissions from the public regarding the costs to the U.S. economy resulting from intellectual property enforcement” :-).

In this context, I really just mean copyrights and patents, of course. It’s a pity that those two and trademarks are all lumped together in one incoherent catgeory by convention and now by government policy. We don’t have a Department of Agriculture and High-Energy Physics, after all. For similar reasons, we shouldn’t have an Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.

Karl Fogel (profile) says:


Well, copyrights and patents have important differences too. For example, part of the original purpose of patents was to prevent inventions from being kept secret by their inventors — the patent office was supposed to be a clearinghouse for research results. (These days the only reason people go looking through patents is to figure out if they’re on one side or the other of a potential infringement suit; the “claims language” in which patents are now written is a lesson in high obscurantism, since its purpose is not to elucidate scientific facts but to defend legal territory.)

It’s true that trademarks really are a wholly different beast from the other two. Copyrights and patents at least have in common that they make artificially scarce that which would be more valuable to society if shared. Trademarks are the opposite: the monopolies they grant are necessary for trademarks to have any value at all, to the public as well as to the holder of a given trademark. Trademarks are about identity (attribution) rather than about content, and identity means nothing if it’s not reliable.

So I’m not sure we need a new word. We already have three perfectly good words for three distinct things, one of which — trademark law — stands out as especially different. The real problem is that rhetorical accuracy is not in the interests of those lobbying for (say) stronger copyright restrictions. That’s why they constantly confuse copyright issues with attribution (trademark) issues. For a good example — I’ve linked to this before, so forgive me if you’ve already encountered it — see

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Even with inflation the box office was higher then the previous decade.”

Incorrect again.

2009 was only Hollywood’s 5th highest box office year after adjusting for inflation.

2002 remains the champion in both ticket sales and adjusted box office.

None of this proves anything RE piracy, of course, but 2009 was NOT the best year for Hollywood in ticket prices, box office, downstream licensing or home video.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Please proofread this letter

That’s a very nice and well thought out response.

At the beginning you mention that you are a musician, but you don’t follow up on that. I think it would be a good idea to say how the things you are talking about are affecting you personally — for instance, why does an artist feel we need more balanced copyrights, seeing that (in theory) you are being favoured atm?

I’ll try to make time to go through it and fix a few grammatical errors I’ve spotted — I’ll try to post here later today/tonight.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Please proofread this letter

Hey, thanks for your corrections.

I was honestly trying to stay away from the “I’m an artist and I believe X” argument, in favor of the “X is correct” argument. It really doesn’t matter that I’m a musician; it matters that what I say is right.

But I may write a closing paragraph that explains my reasoning; basically, that the laws she’s asked to enforce criminalize independent promotion (in the public’s mind, if not in actual law).

Most of your other corrections are spot-on. I’ll probably use most of them. Once this is in a readable state, I’d like to send it as a “sample letter” to a few places.

Jimmy Ginn (user link) says:

Tax Sale

I am holder my a certificate of sale issued by the IRS posted at The copyright office has noted and is filed with Tax Release’s Coyright Office appears to be unwilling to look at fraud, In my case my passed administrator was found to have defrauded the Court and the Copyright Office neither has move to correct see Bridgeport Music v. 500 defentands. Their claims must reviewed , the Copyright Office has a duty to the public and copyright owners as my seif. Jimmy Ginn, Act One Music, GRC Records
and others

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