Commerce Department Wants To Hear From You About Copyright

from the speak-up dept

While I’ve been quite disappointed in the current administration’s positions on various copyright issues, I will admit that it’s been a lot better about at least talking to some of us critics and asking us for our thoughts. Actually listening to what we have to say still seems to be a bit lacking, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Along those lines, Mike Kruger, the Director of New Media for the US Commerce Department, has reached out to let us know that the Commerce Department has now officially opened its comment period for the Internet Policy Task Force’s exploration into copyright and innovation online — and they’d like to hear from folks here. While I’ve been quite disappointed in the positions on this issue taken by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to date, hopefully getting more voices involved will open him up to recognize that some of his assumptions may be faulty.

As I’ve done in the past on similar requests for input, I’ll post my own submission here when I’m done with it.

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Comments on “Commerce Department Wants To Hear From You About Copyright”

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Anonymous Coward says:

“Generate benefits for rights holders of creative works accessible online and make recommendations with respect to those who infringe on those rights;”

That right there is the wrong question, is not about “rights holders” is about the health of the market, not the individual constituents of it.

The focus should be in a healthy market that will endure the hard times, not one that depends on extreme legislation to try and maintain something that it is unsustainable.

IP won’t bring back the golden years, manufacturing will.
IP doesn’t bring wealth to society just to a small group of people.

Want to mantain the economic security of the country let people use everything and build real business models around it, based on cooperation and not forced mandates.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Want to mantain the economic security of the country let people use everything and build real business models around it, based on cooperation and not forced mandates.”

No way we should all follow Obamas lead and aim for five year plans, socialized medicine, a true nanny state, and government watching everything we do. It will be glorious!!

Anonymous Coward says:

I like what's happening at Stanford

Copyright needs reform on defining fair-use. In my mind, what we need is patent reform, and apparently Samsung and Stanford Law School agree. Together, Samsung and Stanford Law are sponsoring a crowd-sourced Patent Remedy Program where $130,000 will be awarded for ideas. I imagine more will come out of the Stanford/Samsung effort than what the Commerce Department efforts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I like what's happening at Stanford

I’m not exactly sure what they mean by remedies.

They can preemptively find patents that they might infringe on and ask for declaratory judgments that negate those patents in a favorable jurisdiction.

They can try to crowd fund an anti IP lobby that also contributes to campaigns and hopefully that will make some progress towards remedying the problem.

They can also try to operate in countries that disregard IP and that’s sorta a remedy, though it’s more of a work around.

They can attempt to burn the buildings of patent trolls and burn the USPTO along with a bunch of relevant lawyers and that can be a remedy (of course I’m joking). What other possible remedies are there?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Thanks for posting that. Read all six pages to see what sort of input they’re looking for. It looks like they really are looking for input from everyone (not just big media companies). For instance, the request notes that they are aware that older business models are being disrupted, and are interested in knowing what new opportunities are opening up.

Anonymous Coward says:

From page 3 of :
“Estimates of economic losses caused by
online infringement to rights holders,
the copyright industries, and the U.S.
economy as a whole vary based on
methodologies and assumptions used in
such estimates, but are nonetheless
substantial. In a word, thieves of
online copyrighted works ?unfairly
devalue America?s contribution, hinder
our ability to grow our economy,
compromise good, high-wage jobs for
Americans, and endanger strong and
prosperous communities.?”

Give ’em hell, Mike.

Greevar (profile) says:

Here is my message to this inquiry

I would like to offer my thoughts on the issues of copyright as a concerned stakeholder. First, I would like to address the three points of policy that the Department of Commerce puts forth on the announcement page:

1. Generate benefits for rights holders of creative works accessible online and make recommendations with respect to those who infringe on those rights;

What about the rights of the public? Every iteration of the Copyright Act has granted more and more rights to the rights holders while diminishing the rights of the public of which this copyright law was intended to serve. I contest that Copyright Act no longer serves its original purpose “to promote the progress of the the useful arts and sciences” and has been perverted to a protectionist policy that provides unconstitutional monopolies on free speech. Furthermore, the inclusion of the DMCA circumvents the government granted fair use policies by allowing copy protection and outlawing any tools that break such copy protection in order to exercise fair use rights. If “Generate benefits for rights holders of creative works” entails giving them more rights, I do not support such action.

2. Enable the robust and free flow of information to facilitate innovation and growth of the Internet economy; and

The Copyright Act is the complete opposite of what this policy intends to accomplish. If the internet has taught us anything, it’s that copyright was never necessary to promote robust and free-flowing information and innovation. These factors are inhibited by copyright law due to predatory litigation against anyone who tries to implement actual innovation that competes with the rights holder’s monopolies granted by the Copyright Act. Such monopolies foster censorship and fear to innovate due to threat of litigation. Sites such as YouTube are shining examples of how much creativity and innovation can happen when you simply give people an open invitation to create.

3. Ensure transparency and due process in cooperative efforts to build confidence in the Internet as a means of distributing copyrighted works.

This I can see is actually quite transparent. The phrase “to build confidence in the Internet as a means of distributing copyrighted works” outlines whom this policy is really for. The main groups that have a lack of confidence in the internet as a distribution medium are the large publishing corporations that rely on copyright monopolies. Their method of earning profit is contingent on the ability to restrict access to protected works. The inherent nature of the internet (it’s natural inclination to share information without restriction) is a threat to the control of the publisher’s monopolies. If the people can access works without a gatekeeper, creative works revert to their true economic status as an abundant good. As an abundant good, the market will no longer bear any price on such a good because the supply is essentially infinite. This frightens them because they don’t know how to run a real business model in a market they don’t control. There are many people that actually rely on the internet as their distribution mediums, such as peer to peer networking. The “war on piracy” is actually a conflict against the greatest and most efficient distribution model ever created. The publishers hate it because they don’t control it and they never will.

Since you’re asking for input on the current state of copyright, I would like to make you aware (if you aren’t already) the origins of copyright and why it is devastating to the progress of the arts and science. The Copyright Act is based on an older law from England know was the Statute of Ann which, after the invention of the printing press, restricted the printing of books to those the monarchy deemed worthy and were allowed to print only after the government approved the texts. These printers were known as Stationers (publishers by modern terms) and the purpose of this copy right was to eliminate people from printing books that sewed dissent against the church and the crown (a censorship law). After a time and change in regime, parliament had decided to come to a vote on whether to let the statute expire or extend it. Well, the stationers didn’t want to loose their highly profitable monopoly on printing and made an emotional plea to the parliament that without this statute, authors could not make a living and their families would starve, even go so far as bringing in their own families to incite sympathy. Being moved by their insincere outcry, the measure was passed. That was over 300 years ago and this concept that creators of works need monopolistic protections was forced into the public consciousness over time. This law is an affront to the constitutional right to free speech and a complete contradiction to it’s core principles.

I also am very much opposed to any form of treaty that claims to “fight piracy” such as the ACTA. From the little that has been released to the public, it is apparent that this treaty’s intent is to restrict access to works and criminalize people while punishing them without due process nor a sufficient burden of proof. It has also been shown that this creation of this copyright treaty has overtly been making an effort to avoid transparency. This in itself is a gross violation of the basic principles of American law of “innocent until proven guilty” and the due process right to be judge by a panel of ones peers. What we have here are unjust laws that infringe on the rights of the many to protect the profits of the few. These are not the founding principles of our nation and we will not stand for their perversion.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m in crotchety old man mode right now, so forgive the bile if there is any.

1. Generate benefits for rights holders of creative works accessible online and make recommendations with respect to those who infringe on those rights;

Copyright is supposed to be a tool to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts”, not to generate benefits for rights holders. You can argue that the way to promote progress is to generate benefits, but that is an opinion, and should not be the primary goal of the government without proof of causality.

2. Enable the robust and free flow of information to facilitate innovation and growth of the Internet economy;

We already have that. Stop trying to censor it through legislation/trade agreements such as COICA, ACTA, and the DMCA. Quit making exceptions for companies. If you really want to help, increase competition in the internet services area. This will decrease the cost of internet services (that whole free market thing) while generating better offerings, leading to more people being connected, more information flowing, and greater growth.

3. Ensure transparency and due process in cooperative efforts to build confidence in the Internet as a means of distributing copyrighted works.

Take a look at the ACTA Proceedings. No, really look at it. We all know what is in the document because it was leaked multiple times. Not because they showed it to us once during the negotiations and once afterward. If your document needs to be leaked to be transparent, you’re doing it wrong.

RobShaver (profile) says:

Are they asking the right questions?
“By way of this Notice and a follow-on report, the Task Force seeks to identify policies that will: (1) Increase benefits for rights holders of creative works accessible online but not for those who infringe on those rights; (2) maintain robust information flows that facilitate innovation and growth of the Internet economy; and (3) at the same time, safeguard end-user interests in freedom of expression, due process, and privacy. The report will evaluate current challenges to protecting online copyrighted works and to sustaining robust information flows, and it will analyze various approaches to meet those challenges.”



health care and being nice to ones neighbor because your better off has NOTHING TO do with IP issues other then the fact that your one of those rich people that would push an old lady out of the way to get across a street.

IF your not one of those people and would help here, that is your time in doing it and your caring that makes the world a better place.

LOOK at canada we have free health care for all here and we are fairing better then the USA economically. I love how some people try and add there own agendas to things that have nothing to do with the thread. While obama is mister hollywood he too is guilty of the same thing. HE brought you a half measure that pissed as many off as made happy and hten can use that in allowing the mister hollywood vp get what his buds want ACTA. EVEN watered down slightly it makes massive criminals of many and just making it so that nations can do the enforcement as they see fit do we not see how it will next go?

I do not trust this current lot of world leaders to GET THE JOB DONE for mankind. THEY are messing shit up at an accelerated rate and it like an article here said the more power we give them the more they act like insane maniacs.

WE need a change of direction for the majority not a minority. TOO LONG have we pandered to special interests and hollywood. In fact i’d like to see a reduction in term lengths massively. 10 years if you can’t make a decent buck you DONT DESERVE TO ANY MORE.

in that ten year time span i hereby authorize you to chop off my left nut, remove my kidneys and lop off my head for violating your precious. After that its my precious …..

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: @15

>> 10 years if you can’t make a decent buck you DONT DESERVE TO ANY MORE.

It’s much easier to reach a wide audience (or the right audience) and make money today than it was in 1800, or so I think can be argued easily; hence, it would have made sense over the decades, generally, for copyright to have lost duration rather than gained.

So judging this way, a 10 year copyright term would seem to be normal and expected.

Jose_X (profile) says:

Just sent in the following (and thanks Mike for the head's up and all info on this site)

Subj: Re: Inquiry on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Internet Economy
The time has never been better for most copyright creator to engage a wide audience and profit. At the same time, what fans used to do at a slow rate on the side and away from the eyes of copyright police, now is done online and to an even greater degree (volume) as naturally enabled by digitalization and the Internet.

Let’s look at the second point.

Society’s members interact with each other through culture. Just like it makes little sense to usually speak a foreign or a made up tongue on most occasions, it also is much more natural to have conversations with material that will 10 times out of 10 have been copyrighted. It’s natural to share. It’s necessary. It’s educational and progress promoting. The vast majority of what goes into our minds or comes out of it is absolutely not unique. Evolution is a slow process in many ways.

Only in modern times have consumers been prosecuted for doing what the body and mind requests of us (to improve ourselves using efficient means). In particular, most humans cannot call copyright infringement “theft” because a great many people were enriched through sharing, information is something that exists in the mind, and the original owner did not lost the ability to gain from such a sharable digital work.

The Internet has enabled many more to be enriched. What needs to change is the business segment that grew out of possibly heavy enforcement of copyright law, the law and the enforcement having grown increasingly more draconian over the years and in particular of late. It is likely the case that some business services of the past are less needed today because the average artist has greater access to much lower cost advanced tools thanks to digitalization, miniaturization, and gains in computing and interconnectedness.

Yes, artists today generally have greater opportunities to profit than in the past.

With the understanding that some “middlemen” and various services are losing value as they give way to progress, there is clearly a greater ability today for the typical talented author to reach a much wider audience at a much lower cost; however, competition from lowered costs all-around is such that this will likely mean the potential fans and future customers will demand more upfront for free. Accessibility breeds competition and faster progress. Yet no matter how much is available for free as a shared digital product, there is much that will not or cannot in practice be free. Digital versions of works everyone else has is not enough. It becomes an appetizer for getting us ready to part with our dollars at the next level up. People still want the tangible and unique experiences (which usually entail the author to perform or customize to some degree on an ongoing basis). People will pay for what is scarce (time of the author, consumables, limited editions, etc). This has always been the case. It should be noted most citizens of this country don’t work for free. Our time always is a scarce resource and usually a major item up for sale by those that also want a piece of it. It makes sense for what is scarce to have a nonzero marginal value, but what is not naturally scarce (digital copies) should be close to free in an efficient and free society.

Let me finish up by making a few more observations.

It should be noted that today consumers are more likely to also be creators and want to be engaged. Usually, this means more will be expected from them as a baseline with the understanding it can be used and shared. Clearly many copyright holders are answering the call. One example being the growth of works licensed under one or more of the Creative Commons licenses as well as the growth of open source software.

I suggest that a recommendation be made for our Congress to cut the length of copyright term significantly and as well to broaden what the law will recognize as fair use. Long and abusive copyright law has been misguided (even major current copyright holders once drew much inspiration from works that were not at the time copyrighted). Innovation involves re-use to a large degree. Humans practice with the best before creating something new. We all must study and imitate and share. And honey works better than vinegar for getting those with dollars and a demand for entertainment to loosen their dollars. May I suggest that the government find areas to spend money where it is likely not to stifle and anger people but rather enhance commerce or fulfill some other social service?

It is further suggested that, for example (and where applicable), writers and others that may work behinds the scenes draw deals with the more popular performers in the spotlight (who have the easiest time building up a fan base) and that copyright monitoring that will be done be done at that level: the behinds the scenes people target and draw royalty sharing deals with high-volume commercial performers and others in the spotlight. The “face” of a complex work are generally those with the most skill in getting fans to pay money for limited items, and the more a digital copy of a performance spreads, the more fans will exist. Ideally, all works would be usable for non-commercial uses (that do not misrepresent facts) or modestly sized-commercial uses without restrictions.

It should not go unnoticed that many very economically viable areas of society do not enforce copyrights. I can tell a joke or repeat a stand-up routine, but I can’t do it the same way as the pros, nor improvise on the spot, and I would be seen as a copycat by others if I tried to pull it off (and why waste valuable time on grade B performance when I can have A). People still go to nightclubs to soak up the atmosphere and this requires a talent to be on hand. People still attend sports events despite being able to watch TV, play video games, or play the actual sports at the park. People still dine out at restaurants despite being able to cook, heat frozen dinners, or order in tasty meals.

Also, it should be noticed that the amount of material online that can be shared 100% legally continues to grow as copyright authors recognize what I just mentioned above. This means the consumer will be that much more confused over what would constitute a legal vs an illegal download or other form of sharing or reuse.

As someone that has created content to be shared with others and who has thought about scaling and other issues (from the engineering point of view), peer-to-peer is a natural improvement over the centralized model, and it is very cost effective (especially valuable to those with limited funds) to use it to share directly with others or to compete with the large distribution sites and services. There is value in having eyeballs. This can be tapped directly and indirectly, and p2p is a great vehicle that has certainly not reached the zenith in innovation. p2p communications is still not nearly as integrated into our computing experiences as it should be.

Those that allow sharing and reuse, I think, will win the day, regardless of how the government decides to spend our tax dollars trying to stifle progress attempting to protect the dinosaurs.

Thank you for allowing me to be candid,

Jose_X (profile) says:

Re: Just sent in the following (and thanks Mike for the head's up and all info on this site)

The letter is rough in a number of areas and omits important details like the value of endorsements, studies that indicate X and Y, etc. Also, I took a modest approach to copyright since I figure others would go more all out, and I was trying to keep in mind the audience. Finally, I did this quickly to get it out of the way, but at the same time to make sure I did it. Hope this helps others, and, consider this letter to be CC-by. [I think, for the value to the cause, that it would be best in copying any part of any letter to indicated so honestly.. hence CC-by.]

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