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Repairing Damages: The Commerce Department's Copyright White Paper

Yesterday, the Department of Commerce released its “White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory Damages.” The paper is the culmination of more than five years of work by the Department’s Internet Policy Task Force. Among its many recommendations, the paper plots a course for significant progress on calibrating statutory damages for copyright infringement.

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Beyond the Elephants’ Graveyard: Recent Additions to the Public Domain

Like open licensing, a vibrant public domain can further equality, education, and access to information. It also can fuel intellectual curiosity. Fostering this vibrancy requires actively populating the public domain rather than just waiting for works to end up there. It also requires reassessment of basic assumptions behind copyright policy (such as equating “harmonization” with longer copyright terms). But the effort is worthwhile. After all, the public domain is a shared resource: we get out what we put in.

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Strong Intermediary Liability Protection Focus of CDT response to European Commission’s ‘Platforms’ Consultation

The European Commission published its Digital Single Market Strategy: the Juncker Commission’s flagship policy initiative to eliminate national administrative silo’s and regulatory barriers in the digital economy. Part of the strategy called for a broad consultation on the role of ‘platforms’, including a broad range of online intermediaries, in the economy and society. CDT recently submitted our response to this consultation.

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Geoblocking and Platforms in the Digital Single Market: A Tale of Two Consultations

Europe is striving to remove national silos and modernize regulatory structures to create a digital single market (DSM). The Commission opened consultations to gather public input regarding two aspects of the future implementation of this goal. One asks about the difficulties of providing and accessing information and goods across national borders in the EU, presumably with the intent of reducing cross-border trade issues, online and offline. The other questions the use, value, and potential for increased regulation of certain online entities participating in two-sided markets, which the consultation dubs “platforms.”

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Fair Use Gets a Legal Defense Fund and a Highlight Reel

YouTube today announced that it will provide legal indemnification for a handful of uploaded videos that are “best examples” of fair use, but nonetheless have been the subject of takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The videos selected will be showcased on YouTube’s page devoted to fair use. Although only four videos have been selected thus far, this is a big deal. It demonstrates the importance of fair use in different contexts and the genuine concern of DMCA takedown misuse. YouTube’s actions also hint that Internet intermediaries might actually be competing on the ability to facilitate and protect user generated content creation.

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A Qualified Win for Cybersecurity Researchers in DMCA Triennial Rulemaking

Today, the Library of Congress released its final rule granting a number of three-year exemptions from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s prohibition against circumvention of technological measures controlling access to copyrighted works. Of particular note, the final rule grants an exemption for security research. CDT has focused on winning this exemption, arguing that the DMCA’s prohibition chills essential cybersecurity research and has little to do with copyright infringement. The granted exemption is an acknowledgment of the importance of security research and the unnecessary legal risks security researchers currently face under the DMCA.

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Draft Car Safety Bill Goes In The Wrong Direction

A House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee recently released a discussion draft of a bill on vehicle safety. Although the bill is well-intentioned, it includes a troubling section aimed at preventing “motor vehicle hacking.” Sec. 302 of the draft bill would create massive civil penalties – up to $100,000 per violation – for accessing a car’s software without authorization for any reason.

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Research, Not Copyright, Should Protect the Environment

The EPA advised the Copyright Office against granting temporary exemptions to the copyright laws prohibiting the circumvention of the technological protection measures (TPMs) designed to prevent access to vehicles’ embedded software. The agency warned that, without the TPM’s and the prohibition of their circumvention under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), car owners would access and modify their vehicle’s software in ways that might violate the Clean Air Act. CDT does not agree with this logic.

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A 21st Century Copyright Office: Renovation Over Relocation

Today, the re:Create Coalition, of which the Center for Democracy & Technology is a member, sent a letter to Congress regarding Copyright Office modernization. As the letter notes, there is no consensus, even among re:Create members, of what it means to modernize the Copyright Office. In CDT’s view, the debate about moving the Office distracts us from more important questions around improving core functions of the Office.

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