The USPTO released Green Paper report last week, which comprehensively reviewed and recommended new legal treatment of digital copyright issues.
Although the Green Paper is not law, its importance stems from its propensity to shape law. This is especially so since the report comes down at a strategic time, not too soon and not too late for these issues to gain traction before Congress examine them during the upcoming term – Congress will be exploring music licensing issues, including questions of mechanical license reform, the digital sound recording right, and a broadcast performance right over the next term, according to the report.
The report’s key points of analysis include the following:
(1) Updating the balance of the rights of copyright-holders, most especially by extending the public performance right to cover broadcasting;
(2) Assessing and improving enforcement tools to combat online infringement, especially, deterring the unauthorized streaming of copyrighted work by enacting felony penalties; and
(3) Realizing the potential of the Internet as a legitimate marketplace for copyrighted works and as a vehicle for streamlining licensing through the creation of automated online licensing.
A plethora of other Copyright issues were also closely analyzed in the report such as the creation of remixes, the first sale doctrine in the digital environment, cellphone unlocking, music licensing reform, and improvement to the DMCA’s notice and takedown system.
The report “is a product of the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) with input from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).”
According to the USPTO press release, “[t]he Green Paper released today is the most thorough and comprehensive analysis of digital copyright policy issued by any administration since 1995.”
Additionally, the Green Paper acknowledged that more law is not always the best answer, especially in the area of enforcement, and thus encouraged stakeholders to reach industry-wide agreements, take part in existing initiatives or develop others relevant to their own sectors.
The IPTF will also convene roundtables on the proper role of the government with regards to the online licensing environment, on issues related to the creation of remixes, the first sale doctrine in the digital environment, the application of statutory damages in the context of individual file-sharers and secondary liability for large-scale online infringement. Further, a multi-stakeholder dialogue on how to improve the operation of the DMCA notice and takedown system is to be scheduled.
This is recommended reading for rights holders and entrepreneurs alike as it will shape the ways in which new technologies brush up against the barriers to entry posed by pre-existing rights holders. In other words: the report sets a backbone for the development of future e-commerce innovation.