The U.S. government should restrict its actions enforcing intellectual-property (IP) law to those “violations that cause the greatest harm in clearly settled areas of law,” six public interest organizations said today.
In comments with the new Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, the groups said in addition that in addition to enforcement policies, the government “should also be open to novel and creative solutions that work within the existing system of balance,” such as considering “whether facilitating legal access to content through mechanical licensing at reasonable rates would prove a better way to discourage infringement and benefit the industry as a whole than the blunter solutions often recommended by the entertainment industry.”
Public Knowledge, Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Association of Law Libraries, Medical Library Association, Special Libraries Association, and U.S. PIRG filed the comments. Victoria Espinel, the enforcement coordinator, asked for public comment on what policies for intellectual property enforcement she should recommend to Congress. A copy of the comments is here.
In making their recommendations, the groups said government intellectual property enforcement priorities should be guided by three principles:
1) The government should only seek to prevent private economic harms when the costs of enforcement do not exceed the harm caused.
2) The government should pursue harms that meet the standards for criminal conduct.
3) Publicly funded enforcement resources should be reserved for clear violations of the law, rather than in “gray areas” characterized by uncertain and evolving legal or marketplace norms.
The groups added the government should conduct cost-benefit analyses of potential government enforcement of private intellectual property rights, and should recognize that different types of infringements result in different types of harm.
In addition, the groups said that IP enforcement overseas should be consistent with other foreign policy objectives, such as those related to freedom of speech and economic development. “Overly broad enforcement” of “expansive IP laws” could harm those other goals, the groups said.
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