IP: Task force releases green paper on copyright policy in the digital economy

Progress toward curbing online infringement has been made in recent years through stakeholder cooperation

On July 31, the Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force (the Task Force) issued its long-awaited report, Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy (the Green Paper), which comprehensively outlines the current major copyright issues, such as digital performance rights, technology protection measures and mass digitization projects, and their relation to the Internet economy. The Green Paper proposes steps that should be taken legislatively, as well as voluntarily via private sector initiatives, to fully utilize the Internet economy while adequately protecting privacy and copyright rights.

The Task Force’s recommendations can be placed in three broad categories, including recommendations to update the balance of rights and exceptions; improving enforcement tools to combat online infringement; and developing the Internet as a legitimate marketplace for copyrighted works and streamlined licensing. Many of the issues discussed and the proposed protections and initiatives may not only be relevant to businesses but may also provide insight into the future of copyright and privacy policies in the transforming digital age.

Despite these controversial governmental enforcement mechanisms, there are numerous practical hurdles faced by officials, specifically with enforcement against foreign violators, including the limitations of resources and jurisdictional restrictions prohibiting seizure of foreign domains names involved in Internet piracy. To provide improvement, the Task Force asserted that it is important for the United States continue to work to reduce foreign-based piracy by working to ensure the adequacy and effectiveness of measures against Internet piracy in foreign jurisdictions and by increasing cooperative efforts with foreign law enforcement.

In addition to criminal remedies, copyright owners have an avenue of relief through private civil actions against the direct infringer and those secondarily liable, as well as through actions against third parties to remove the infringing content from the Internet.

Contributing Author

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John McElwaine

John C. McElwaine is a partner and intellectual property attorney at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP (Charleston, S.C.). He devotes his practice to Internet,...

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