There is a possibility of copyright reform in the near future. The Computer & Communications Industry Association has released its latest whitepaper “Copyright Reform For a Digital Economy” along with a webinar. Points and quotes from the whitepaper:
Copyright exists to incentivize authorship with the prospect of economic reward and to promote the public good. Copyright grants temporary monopoly privileges in order to turn private motivation into public benefit, so the laws must always be balanced in favor of the public interest. This is one of various ways to promote creativity and innovation.
Any reform to copyright law should include two important principles:
- accommodate new technology innovation and commerce so as not to make every licensee or consumer a copyright infringer; and
- provide certainty to businesses that are not the “content industry” but are nevertheless substantially affected by the Copyright Act.
- Copyright is an important way to "incentivizing the creation of certain kinds of economically valuable content" however it inhibits some creative models.
- Empowered by new technology and the Internet, virtually everyone may become a content creator with a potentially limitless audience.
- Survey data suggests there is declining public respect for copyright.
- Exceptionally long copyright terms have proven to be a significant problem for researchers, historians, and preservationists.
- “[o]verprotecting intellectual property is as harmful as underprotecting it. Creativity is impossible without a rich public domain.”
Another difficulty is the interaction of copyright law with contract "It is not uncommon for licenses to prohibit the user from exercising rights under the Copyright Act, such as fair use" which means that a contract can defeat Congressional intent.
Copyright trolls are known for their abusive litigation tactics, such as “baseless shakedowns,” shotgun style law suits, and using copyrights acquired for the purpose of suing. They rely on astronomical awards for damages which they use as a punitive tool, “designed to discourage wrongful conduct.”
Congress needs to, among other things, ensure fair use is central to any legislation, preserve the first sale doctrine, reform the licensing landscape, and provide greater guidance under the law.
It is important that any copyright reform makes the system fit for a digital environment. [I would add to allow preservation of digital content.]