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Free Expression, Open Internet

Re:Create Coalition to Advocate for Balanced Copyright Law

Today, CDT joins other non-profit advocacy organizations and trade associations in launching the Re:Create Coalition.  Re:Create represents an effort to simplify and balance copyright law and policy, identifying what works well and what doesn’t.  Through the coalition, CDT hopes to advance conversations about copyright beyond false dichotomies that needlessly pit creators of copyrighted works against consumers and innovators.

This coalition is forming as the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee wraps up its extensive review of copyright policy issues.  This week, the Committee begins the next phase by asking the Register of Copyrights for her perspective on the issues they identified and needed changes to copyright law.  The coalition is also forming as Vice President Biden swears in Daniel Marti as our second U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.  And it is forming as copyright issues come to the fore in trade agreements and proposed European Union regulations.

CDT, along with other Re:Create coalition members, will work to ensure that the copyright law and policies that evolve in these discussions reflect advances in technologies that have allowed creators to reach consumers directly and have made those consumers content creators in their own right.  At the same time, we are mindful of ongoing efforts by some rightsholders to create an enforcement regime similar to the one so comprehensively repudiated in the debates over the Stop Online Piracy Act.  Efforts to pass federal legislation requiring search engines, registrars, and Internet service providers to block access to certain content or entire websites seems to have subsided for now.  However, efforts to obtain the same enforcement mechanisms in different forums – including state courts, state legislatures, the International Trade Commissions, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – are ongoing. Such mechanisms harm legitimate innovation and free expression, and may not be as effective in combatting online copyright infringement as their proponents believe.

We are all stakeholders in copyright policy discussions.  Indeed, John Deere equipment owners learned only recently that they merely license, rather than own the software that controls essential functions of their tractors, making them unable to access or alter that software without risking liability under the Copyright Act.  Just like Internet users who remix audiovisual content on the Internet, the engineer providing the tools to do so, and consumers of nearly any software-enabled or Internet-connected device, we all have a stake in copyright policy.  As the number of constituencies with a stake in copyright expands, opportunities for consensus may expand with it, hopefully leading us closer to more transparent, balanced, and user-friendly copyright laws and policies.  We’re excited to work with the other Re:Create coalition members to identify those opportunities and make the most of them.