Professor Evans’ scholarship in line with DOC’s latest reccs re: copyright statutory damages, remixes

iptf_logosThe Department of Commerce‘s Internet Policy Task Force recently released its much-anticipated report on statutory damages, remixes, and the first sale doctrine. The report, titled White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory DamagesCopyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy (The IPTF Report), recommended numerous important and long overdue changes to the Copyright Act. Those recommendations focus on three key areas:

  1. the legal framework for the creation of remixes;
  2. the relevance and scope of the first sale doctrine in the digital environment; and
  3. the application of statutory damages in the context of individual file-sharers and secondary liability for large-scale online infringement. (p. iii, The IPTF Report).

The Task Force Report made three recommendations overall:

  1. To enact a new section 504 of the Copyright Act that lists factors for courts and juries to consider when determining the amount of a statutory damages award.
  2. To remove the “notice bar” to the Innocent Infringer “defense” and instead treat notice as merely a factor. This change is especially important to protect a good faith, mistaken user (who I refer to as a “mea culpa infringer” in Safe Harbor for the Innocent Infringer in the Digital Age).
  3. To give courts the discretion to assess statutory damages in ways other than a strict per-work basis in cases involving non-willful secondary liability for online services offering a large number of works.

I write primarily about the impact of new technologies and new forms of artistic expression on copyright law. Therefore, I am excited and encouraged to see that my assertions and recommendations in Safe Harbor for the Innocent Infringer in the Digital Age (50 Willamette L. Rev. 1 (2013)), Reverse Engineering IP  (17 Marquette Intell. Prop. L. Rev. 61 (2013)), and Sampling, Looping & Mashing … Oh MY! (21 Fordham Intell. Prop. Media & Ent. L.J. 843 (2011)), are consistent with the Task Force’s approach to these critical areas in need of substantive reform.

For example, in Safe Harbor for the Innocent Infringer in the Digital Age I explored the role of the innocent infringer archetype historically and in the digital age. I also highlighted the tension between a “20th century” copyright regime and “21st century” user expectations regarding generally accepted online uses of copyrighted materials. Those customary uses reflect the efficient use of digital technologies and the Internet. Finally, I offered a legislative fix in the form of “safe harbor” from liability for certain innocent infringers akin to the type of protection afforded online service providers.

In that article, I argued that such an exemption seems not only more efficient but also more just in the online environment where unwitting infringement for the average copyright consumer is far easier than ever to commit, extremely difficult to police, and often causes little, if any, real market harm.

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In a current work-in-progress titled “Safer Harbor” from Statutory Damages for Mea Culpa Infringers: Remixing the DOC White Paper, I approach the topic from the damages-instead of the liability-phase.

I offer a legislative fix to the statutory damages section that would inject greater balance, fairness and uniformity into the damages assessment. I began writing this article in 2014 but in light the IPTF Report, I intend to analyze and incorporate the Report’s findings and recommendations against the backdrop of my own recommended fixes to copyright law.

 

Government Shutdown Affects IP Profs, Attys too … Copyright.gov down!

October 1, 2013

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Government Shutdown Affects IP Profs, Attys too … Copyright.gov down! by Tonya M. Evans is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

As I prepared for my Copyright & Trademark class this morning, I needed to pull the text of one of the sections of the Copyright Act. So I surfed on over to Copyright.gov to access the full text of the Act when I bumped into an odd-looking notice page.

Without really looking at the text, I figured my browser had auto-completed the last URL I’d visited at the site so I typed in copyright.gov myself and hit send. The odd-looking notice page appeared again and there it was … an official notice that due to the government shutdown the Copyright Office is closed:

Copyright.gov special notice due to gov't shutdownSo it seems the government shutdown is INDEED having intended and unintended consequences as thousands of federal employees are furloughed, or receiving government IOUs because the government cannot pay. The strategy to defund the federal government in order to participate in the kabuki theater of purporting to defund the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act or ACA) a/k/a Obamacare seems not only inane (and insane) but just plain inhumane.

[ObamaCare Exchanges start up just as government shuts down]

Dozens of offices are closed, including the Copyright Office. So the impact is real. Mail will be delivered. Social Security and Medicare benefits will continue to flow (although there will likely be delays). But WIC food benefits, federal courts, NIH, food safety, Head Start, federal loan processing, veterans services and work safety (to name just a few areas) are all immediately and negatively impacted (either by delays or closures). Even our military and military families are taking a hit. And because taxes and fines will go uncollected, valuable and much-needed revenue will take a hit as well.

Despite the Copyright Office closure, the United States Patent & Trademark Office remains open … at least for several weeks! It’s hardly a silver lining but not all agencies are impacted in the same way.

The USPTO notice reads as follows:

During the general government shutdown that began October 1, 2013, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will remain open, using prior year reserve fee collections to operate as usual for approximately four weeks. We continue to assess our fee collections compared to our operating requirements to determine how long we will be able to operate in this capacity during a general government shutdown. We will provide an update as more definitive information becomes available.

Should we exhaust these reserve funds before the general government shutdown comes to an end, USPTO would shut down at that time, although a very small staff would continue to work to accept new applications and maintain IT infrastructure, among other functions. (Should it become necessary for USPTO to shut down, details of the agency’s plan for an orderly shutdown are available on page 78 of the United States Department of Commerce’s shutdown plan, available here.)

It was avoidable. Continue reading “Government Shutdown Affects IP Profs, Attys too … Copyright.gov down!”

Internet browsing against policy may get you fired but it’s no federal crime, says the 9th Circuit

Source: SWIPLit.com:

 “In a decision that should give many employees a sigh of relief, the Ninth Circuit has held that browsing the Internet in contravention of an employer’s use restrictions does not give rise to criminal penalties under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) 18 U.S.C. § 1030.”

Read the full article at SWIPLit.com