CCIA: Protecting Fair Use Is Central To Copyright Changes

In anticipation of possible congressional action on copyright reform before the end of the year, the Computer & Communications Industry Association was briefing Hill staffers Tuesday (Aug. 25) on what reforms it thinks are necessary for the digital economy and what protections should be preserved for fair use of copyrighted content.

As briefing book CCIA was armed with a new white paper ( that said any reforms should be guided by two main principles: "(1) accommodating new technology innovation and commerce so as not to make every licensee or consumer a copyright infringer; and (2) providing certainty to businesses that are not the “content industry” but are nevertheless substantially affected by the Copyright Act."

There is an ongoing tension between computer companies on how and how much to protect copyrighted content, with content providers wanting the government to err on the side of protection and computer companies, who make all those digital copying and storing devices, looking to insure that does not become overprotection that discourages or criminalizes fair use.

CCIA wants Congress top keep "fair use" a central principal in any legislation; preserve the first-sale doctrine, which gives the owner of a copyrighted work the right to resell it; and create more transparency about copyright ownership, particularly in increasingly concentrated companies.

Among its other specific asks are: 1) preserve the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbors for online services (including pre-1972 sound recordings) that it says were essential for the development of cloud computing and social media; 2) taking a fresh look at the size of statutory damages, which it says are disproportionate to the offense, and revisit their "infinite" aggregation; 3) create meaningful penalties for the "the willful misuse of copyrights, anticircumvention provisions, and the DMCA’s notice and takedown provisions," and allow for monetary awards for egregious violations, as there are for copyright infringements.

CCIA members include Amazon, Google, Netflix, ebay, Yahoo! Microsoft, Sprint and T-Mobile.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.