The U.S. Commerce Department should try to “reduce barriers to creativity and innovation” rather than “use its powers solely to explore ways to protect existing business models,” Public Knowledge (PK), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and New America Foundation said today.
In a filing with the Commerce Department in response to the agency’s review of copyright and innovation policy in the Internet economy, the three groups said, “the Department should focus on finding ways to encourage more people to create and contribute. In addition to benefits, the costs of enforcement – both financial and in increased barriers to innovate – must be considered.” The Commerce notice asking for comments is here.
A copy of the filing is here.
Citing a number of specific policy and technical issues, the groups said primary tactics used by the content industry in their quest to protect their business models, suing users and proposing technological solutions, were not effective. They noted that, “at the height of the Recording Industry of America’s (RIAA) litigation campaign in 2007 and 2008, various file-sharing venues reported stratospheric growth in visitors, searches, and software downloads.” Such litigation has the risk of stifling growth of online services and forces consumers to settle cases because they can’t afford not to.
Similarly, technological solutions to prevent online infringement are ineffective at their assigned task and disruptive of legitimate activities, PK and EFF said. In addition, solutions such as filtering the data traffic of users “implicate significant privacy concerns,” the groups said: “Because there is no way of knowing which unknown packets are infringing and which unknown packets are noninfringing, any filter must carefully examine all packets.”
The groups said the current notice-and-takedown system from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was working, although it could be improved and that other solutions, such as a voluntary collective licensing system as used by ASCAP and BMI for traditionally recorded music, should be considered.
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