Administration Issues Latest IP Enforcement Action Plan

Will Encourage 'Best Practices' for Rights-Holders
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The Obama Administration is seeking comment on how to gauge the effectiveness of the joint ISP/studio "Six Strikes" initiative to discourage intellectual property theft, will develop "best practices" for rights holders involved in those service providers voluntary initiatives, and will also direct the Department of Commerce to issue an annual report -- it issued a one-time report last year -- on the number of jobs created and contributions to GDP from "intellectual property-intensive industries."

That is according to the just-released "2013 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement" from U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel. The plans is the fourth such blueprint, and deals with ways to better coordinate, educate and enforce, as well as review domestic laws for possible changes.

"[I]nfringement of intellectual property continues to pose significant risk to our economy and to our ability to compete globally," she said in the introduction to the report.

Espinel put an exclamation point on education. "[The Administration believes that when Americans and people around the world are given real choices between legal and illegal options, the vast majority will want to choose the legal option."

That is the theory behind the Six Strikes program, in which AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and music producers and studios teamed up earlier this year on a program to notify subs when they appear to be infringing using peer-to-peer networks.

But the administration is taking a trust and verify approach. To that end, the Patent and Trademark Office will ask for public input on how to "to assess the effectiveness of voluntary initiatives."

Those voluntary initiatives to fight IP theft could extend beyond ISPs and content providers to include search engines as well as "encouraging" rights holders -- like TV and film studios -- to adopt best practices. Among the reports new action items are "facilitate voluntary initiatives to reduce online intellectual property infringement. IPEC will reach out to additional sectors (which may include data storage services, domain name registrars, and search engines) and encourage rights holders to adopt a set of best practices." As well as beginning the process of assessing those initiatives, which in addition to Six Strikes includes a May 2012, Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies pledge "to not support online piracy and counterfeiting with advertising revenue."

Other action items for 2013 and beyond include:

  • "Conduct a comprehensive review of domestic laws to determine needed legislative changes to improve enforcement;
  • "Improve transparency in intellectual property policymaking. IPEC [the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator] will look for additional ways to hear concerns and gather input from a wide range of stakeholders;
  • "Improve IPR enforcement efficacy by leveraging advanced technology and expertise. IPEC will chair an interagency working group to identify and advance new and innovative technologies to improve enforcement capabilities at the border. In addition, law enforcement agencies will look for ways to engage outside technology experts and Internet engineers to increase expertise on online enforcement approaches;
  • "Educate authors on "fair use" copyright doctrine. The U.S. Copyright Office will summarize current law and provide general guidance targeted to artists seeking to apply the law to their own situations."