Public Knowledge on Copyright Reform

by on November 1, 2007 · 0 comments

Public Knowledge has proposed some copyright reform principles. I agree with one of them. As for the rest… the “expansion” of copyright law that the proposed reforms are supposed to redress has come about in a context in which traditional enforcement mechanisms for copyright have become almost impossible to use. Given this problem, it is hard to see how the “expansion” as creating an imbalance–rather, it is a result of an imbalance created by technology. Unless one addresses the enforcement problem, one is not really addressing the “expansion” problem.

I do agree that music licensing needs work (proposal 4).

Re 1) Expanding fair use to include personal use etc. would create an exemption that would swallow almost all of copyright law.

Re 2) Why undermine the growth in licensing services since Sony was clarified and updated in Grokster? That is what a codification of the vast oversimplication of letting all and any “substantial non-infringing uses” behind a protective wall would do. If one is fond of the Sony case, one had better read the whole thing–and be aware of what it doesn’t hold, and it’s qualifications. If the law doesn’t keep up with technology, well, it can’t maintain balance very well.

Re 3) How about comparable penalties for overstating the rights of fair use? Or their importance? Or their role in the economy?

Re 5) Presumably consumers would get notice of contractual limits if they read the contracts… This no more needs to be legislated than any other aspect of the terms of sale. I do expect that market forces will continue to lead to improvements–there is room for those. In the end, though, what gets put front and center on the packaging ought to be determined by demand. Wrapping the entire package in fine print about what the technology can and can’t do (you can’t play it backwards like a movie reel… etc. etc.) is not likely to help anyone. It won’t get read.

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