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Free Expression, Open Internet

CDT’s Comments to DOC on Digital Copyright Focus on Notice and Takedown and Statutory Damages Reform

In July, when the Department of Commerce (DOC) Internet Policy Task Force released its Green Paper, Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy, CDT welcomed its reasonably balanced discussion and its inclusion of several reform topics that are important to Internet users and innovators. In October, the Task Force issued a request for comments and announced plans for a series of multistakeholder meetings on some of the issues raised. This week we submitted our comments, focusing primarily on two critical issues: the DMCA’s notice-and-takedown system and statutory damages reform.

In regards to the notice-and-takedown process, we stress the importance of not altering the fundamental roles and responsibilities established by the DMCA: the burden for identifying infringing content is and should remain on rights holders and not service providers or hosting platforms. And while we recognize that there are some ways practical operations of notice-and-takedowns could be improved, we caution that a “one size fits all” is unlikely to work.

Statutory damages is an area where CDT sees great need of reform. Our comments highlight the way the current regime threatens disproportionate sanctions against individual infringers and chills innovation and investment in new services. While legislation is likely needed to fully correct the current imbalance, we note that there may be some non-legislative options for the Task Force to explore.

We also offer comments on the other issues raised in the request for comment: the legal framework for remixes, first sale in the digital environment, and the online licensing environment.

The Task Force has laid out a broad agenda for its discussions of copyright reforms. We look forward to participating to ensure that copyright policy retains its balance – enabling an innovative and creative environment for every Internet user.