Obama Administration begins work on DMCA 2.0

Copyright The Commerce Department issued its promised Notice of Inquiry Tuesday seeking comment from various stakeholders on how to improve the protection of copyrighted works on the Internet and “the relationship between copyright law and innovation in the Internet economy.” According to a press release on the department’s website, the comments gathered from the NOI  “will be used by the Internet Policy Task Force in preparing a report that will contribute to the administration’s domestic policy and international engagement in the area of online copyright protection.” Comments are due Nov. 19.

While the NOI is not related to any specific regulatory or legislative proposal at this point, it’s clear from the questions it poses that the administration is taking a hard look at whether the safe harbors established for service providers by §512 of the DMCA and §203 of the Communications Act really are getting the balance right between “copyright law and innovation in the Internet economy.”

Among the questions posed by the NOI:

  • What challenges have the creative industries experienced in developing new business models to offer content online and, in the process, to counteract infrigning Internet downloads and streaming?
  • How can government policy or intellectual property laws promote successful, legitimate business models and discourage infringement-driven models?
  • What are stakeholders’ experiences with the volume and accuracy of takedown notices issued for allegedly infringing content across the different types of online services (i.e., storage, caching, and search) and technologies (e.g., P2P, cyber lockers, streaming, etc.)?
  • What are stakeholders’ experiences with developing collaborative approaches to address online copyright infringement?…Have collaborative approaches resulted in the formulation of best practices, the adoption of private graduated response systems, or other measures to deter online infringement that can be replicated?
  • What are stakeholders’ experiences with Section 512(i) on the establishment of policies by online service providers to inform subscribers of service termination for repeat infringement? What are stakeholders’ experiences with the framework in Section 512(j) for injunctive relief to prevent or restrain online infringement? Would stakeholders recommend improvements to existing legal remedies or even new and additional legal remedies to deal with infringing content on a more timely basis?

How do you think the MPAA will answer that last one?

In separate comments at the Future of Music Coalition policy summit in Washington Tuesday, White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), Victoria Espinel, also underscored the administration’s commitment to encouraging closer cooperation between rights owners and “Internet intermediaries” in stanching the flow of infringing content online.

“My job is to protect the creativity of U.S. citizens,” she told the group.

One place where that commitment apparently will not be felt, however, is in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which was officially released to the public for the first time on Wednesday. Gone from the latest draft is language originally proposed by the U.S. that could have significantly increased intermediaries’ liability for copyright infringement on their networks. Instead, the new language merely gives countries the right to require ISPs to disclose the identities of subscribers suspected of infringing copyrighted works, and then only in a manner “that avoids the creation of barriers to legitimate activity.”

The MPAA called the treaty “an important step forward in strengthening international cooperation and enforcement for intellectual property rights,” but added “We continue to believe ACTA must include robust protections for intellectual property online, building on established international norms if it is to meet its potential as a state-of-the art agreement to combat counterfeiting and piracy.”

Further reading:

Commerce NOI

Final ACTA Draft