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ICLE scholars submit commentary on Copyright Office reform PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 02 February 2017 09:14

Yesterday ICLE submitted two sets of copyright-related commentary (authored by Geoffrey Manne, Neil Turkewitz, Kristian Stout and Allen Gibby) -- one to the Library of Congress offering recommendations for the expertise needed by the new Register of Copyrights, and one to the House Judiciary Committee regarding its first proposal for copyright reform.

In its Response to the Library of Congress Survey Requesting Input on Expertise Needed by the Register of Copyrights, ICLE outlined three priorities for the new Register of copyrights to ensure that the Register is able to:

  • Work closely with Congress in securing necessary adaptations and/or enforcement to ensure that copyright is fit for purpose in the digital age
  • Create technical working groups to develop pervasive and platform-agnostic standard technical measures;
  • Implement the Copyright Office’s IT modernization plan, including making the registration and recordation process easier and more affordable.

In its Response to the First Proposal on Copyright Reform, ICLE generally agreed with the House Judiciary Committee’s conclusion that the Copyright Office and the Library of Congress must be separated:

In the current digital environment... the intersections and points of conflict between Library priorities focused on preservation and access, and Copyright Office priorities of encouraging and protecting creativity, have grown more frequent and more fundamental… It is time, or past time, to establish the proper foundations for the operation of the Copyright Office in light of its economic and cultural significance. It is also past time to rely on legacy processes and traditions that ill serve US interests in a well-functioning and modern copyright system. The proposal from the Committee will help the Copyright Office to meet its constitutional and statutory obligations, and will allow both the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office to focus on their core competencies and missions.

And, as always, ICLE advocated for more economic rigor in regulatory decision making processes:

We wholeheartedly endorse the proposal to add a Chief Economist and Chief Technologist to the Office. Everyone should welcome the addition of informed, rigorous and evidence-based decision making. Economists can help the Copyright Office by highlighting the economic consequences of various policy decisions so that potential costs and benefits are better understood. Technologists can assist policymakers in assessing the technological universe in ways that will better inform their decision-making. A sound 21st Century copyright policy is impossible without a firm and consistent grasp of both economics and technology.

The House Judiciary Committee received a number of other comments on its proposal, all of which can be seen here.

ICLE files position statement in EU ePrivacy Directive Consultation PDF Print E-mail

Earlier this week ICLE submitted a position statement to the European Commission as part of the Commission's Public Consultation on the Evaluation and Review of the ePrivacy Directive -- part of the Commission's Digital Single Market Strategy.

As we note in the introduction to our position statement:

The Commission’s interest in protecting the privacy of its citizens is commendable. This concern, however, should be well tempered by humility, and the Commission’s ultimate decision should be guided by the understanding that contemporary technology and market innovations have afforded consumers a degree of choice unparallelled in the history of the European Union. While some firms may build their products with the requirement that consumers allow them to use personal information, others will not. And when consumers defect from products that do not meet their individual mix of privacy, price, and other preferences, firms will take notice and change their behavior accordingly.

This leads to another related point: innovation moves so quickly today that uniform prescriptive regulation intended to govern the behavior of many thousands of firms and millions of consumers is doomed to frustration if not outright failure. Moreover, broad regulations meant to bring industry to heel frequently work to the benefit of incumbents, driving out smaller competitors or making entry nearly impossible, only further narrowing consumer choices and guaranteeing less than optimal results for all of society.

With that said, there are certainly actions for the Commission to take that ensure a competitive environment in which consumer interests are adequately protected. Chief among these areas would be to enact regulations that control the damaging effects of costly data localization rules. Overall, however, the Commission would do best to leave much of the implementation of privacy regulations to the individual EU members who are most in touch with the challenges and desires of their own constituents.

Our full statement is available here.

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