The Debate over Copyright Reform Cannot Be Censored
The Debate over Copyright Reform Cannot Be Censored
The Debate over Copyright Reform Cannot Be Censored

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    This past Friday, the House Republican
    Study Committee released a policy brief entitled Three Myths About Copyright
    Law and Where to Start to Fix it. 
    brief, examines three common content
    industry assertions about the benefits of copyright, and concludes that rather
    than promoting productivity and innovation, current copyright law inhibits
    them.  The brief then makes a number of suggestions
    to reform the system, including reducing statutory damages, expanding fair use,
    punishing copyright abuse and shortening copyright terms significantly.

    Those of us who for well over a
    decade have been pushing to have anyone beyond a handful of legislators
    recognize that copyright is too long and too strong and badly in need of reform
    were elated.  Finally, an influential
    Congressional committee was giving serious recognition to many of the arguments
    we’ve been making! 

    But that joy was very short
    lived.  Less than 24 hours after the
    brief was released, the brief was taken down from the RSC’s website. RSC
    Executive Director Paul Teller sent an email that said that the brief “was published without adequate review
    within the RSC”.   The email said further “copyright
    reform would have far-reaching impacts, so it is incredibly important that it
    be approached with all facts and viewpoints in hand.”

    One needn’t be a detective to conclude that the retraction had less
    to do with the lack of an “adequate review” and balance and more with
    entertainment lobbyists coming down on the RSC like a ton of bricks.   The defeat of SOPA and PIPA was bad enough –
    but a paper that would start serious discussion of bringing balance back to
    copyright law so that it once again accomplishes the Constitutional purpose of
    “promot[ing] the progress of science and the useful arts”?   That was too much for the industry to

    The bad news for the movie studios and record companies is that the
    discussion about how to make copyright law make sense in a digital age has
    already started in Washington, and it will continue, with or without them.  Witness Representative Issa’s proposal that
    would allow people to rip the digital media they own to the devices they
    own.  Or Rep. Lofgren’s effort today to
    use Reddit to crowd-source legislation that would give greater due process protections to owners of seized websites.  And of course Public Knowledge has our own
    list of reforms.  And this is happening
    even before the 113th Congress has started.

    If you are as outraged as we are about the content industry’s
    attempt to censor the debate over copyright reform, please call your
    Representatives and Senators
    and tell them that reform is important to
    you.  Then tell us who you called and what they said – it will help us push the copyright reform agenda forward in the new Congress