Commerce Takes Some Flak over Copyright Green Paper

Computer, Fair Use Groups Suggest it Tilts Toward Rights-holders, Enforcement
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The Commerce Department's new "green paper" on balancing copyright protection and online innovation does not get that balance right, according to the Computer & Communications Industry Association, whose members include Google, ebay, Dish, Microsoft and Sprint. Fair use fan Public Knowledge also suggested there was more emphasis on enforcement than on protecting fair use limitations and exceptions.

Those were among the industry responses Wednesday to the paper's publication by the Department of Commerce's Internet Policy Task Force.

CCIA vice president of law and policy Matt Schruers in a statement praised the reports overview of the state of copyright in the digital age as balanced and valuable, but said that its recommendations are wanting.

“Despite giving a balanced overview, and recognizing the importance of both rights and exceptions in copyright," said Schruers, "the report’s recommendations focus on intervening in existing private sector efforts, while overlooking problems that only the government can solve. It suggests little to help industry combat piracy through marketplace alternatives, and instead dwells largely on enforcement, where industry best practices exist and voluntary initiatives are already underway.

He said the government needs to be less defensive and "crafting solutions to help new services navigate licensing gridlock, technology discrimination, and poor registry information.... An ‘all stick, no carrot’ approach to converting infringements into sales will not succeed," he said.

Public Knowledge vice president of legal affairs Sherwin Siy commended the Administration for recognizing the need for copyright reform and raising some important issues. But it also said that the report "fails to recognize fully the negative effects of certain copyright enforcement policies on the public" and "focuses in more detail, more frequently, on updating exclusive rights and enforcement measures than on preserving essential limitations and exceptions..."

Siy suggested the paper leaned toward rightsholders. He said it does not "adequately" discuss network leverl content-filtering and "will commonly refer to the need to address concerns of creators, rightsholders, and services, without addressing the interests of the public—the audiences and consumers who are the ultimate beneficiaries of copyright law."