SIIA Digital Policy Roundup: Commerce Dept. Publishes Copyright Paper, House Commerce Committee Establishes Privacy Working Group, and Patent Litigation Reform Efforts will Resume After Recess

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Commerce Dept. Publishes Long-Awaited Copyright Paper:

On July 31st, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) published a green paper, titled “Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy,” that discusses the availability, protection, and enforcement of copyrighted works in the online environment. The purpose of the green paper is to review the development of copyright policy in the face of new technologies, assess the current challenges facing copyright law, and provide a set of recommendations to address some of those challenges. With a few minor exceptions, the green paper does not propose any specific legislative changes or any other specific actions.

However, the Paper does set forth a comprehensive plan for conducting future studies in several areas, including studies relating to: (1) accessing the applicability of the first sale doctrine in the digital environment. (numerous licensing issues are identified in the paper, including the increasing tendency of content owners to “structure the transaction as a license rather than a sale, avoiding application of the first sale doctrine.”); (2) improving the operation of the notice-and-takedown system under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act; (3) applying statutory damages to individual file sharers as opposed to large-scale infringers; and (4) determining the appropriate role for the government, if any, to help improve the online licensing environment, including access to comprehensive public and private databases of rights information.

House Commerce Committee Establishes Privacy Working Group

Just prior to adjourning for August recess, House Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Lee Terry (R-NE) and Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) launched a bipartisan Privacy Working Group to examine online privacy concerns and issues. The established goal of the Group is to “examine the complex issues with a balanced approach that recognizes the need to protect personal information online in a manner that preserves growth and innovation.” While it is unlikely that this Group will push legislation in the limited time remaining this session, it remains to be seen whether any bipartisan consensus emerges following months of information gathering.

Patent Litigation Reform Efforts will Resume After Recess

At the outset of the summer, we anticipated that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) would release a revised version of his patent litigation abuse discussion draft prior to the August recess and that the draft might possibly be introduced as a bill just prior to the recess. But like many summer blockbusters, this release date too has been pushed back. While this delay should not be considered a step back in the effort to get legislation passed, it is an indication that Chairman Goodlatte plans to proceed more methodically in an effort to ensure that any legislation in this area strikes the right balance and addresses the patent troll problem in an effective and meaningful way without the need to seek additional legislation in the future.

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David David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy.