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Report Calls for Finding ‘Sweet Spot’ On Internet Policy Protecting Copyright and Creativity

A new report from the U.S. Department of Commerce affirms that current copyright laws are not up to the challenges of the digital age, rejects the notion that intellectual property rights protection necessarily stifles innovation and calls for broad-based discussion on some key issues.

“The ultimate goal is to find, as then-Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke explained, “the sweet spot” on Internet policy—one that ensures the Internet remains an engine of creativity and innovation; and a place where we do a better job protecting against piracy of copyrighted works,” according to the 112-page Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy, written by the Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force.

As outlined in the report, the most comprehensive governmental analysis of digital copyright policy since 1995, the task force will solicit public comments and convene roundtables on issues including: the creation of remixes; the first sale doctrine; “the application of statutory damages in the context of individual file-sharers and secondary liability for large-scale online infringement”; and “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.”

In addition, the task force says it will support the Copyright Office’s efforts to  update the library exception and examine issues related to orphan works and mass digitization. And it repeats the Obama administration’s call for Congress to enact legislation adopting the same range of penalties for criminal streamlining that exist for criminal reproduction and distribution.

The task force also encourages public education on the legitimate use of online information and says it will evaluate the effectiveness of voluntary private sector efforts to “determine whether additional action should be considered.”