Public Knowledge Proposes Fair Use ‘Wish List' Of Legislative Proposals

Taking a page from the online posting of Rep. Darrell Issa's OPEN Act alternative to copyright piracy bills, Public Knowledge (PK), has sought its own online comment on what amounts to a fair use "wish list" of legislation.

Public Knowledge joined with Google, Yahoo!, consumer electronics companies, Issa (a former electronics company exec) and many others to oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate as overly broad and Internet-chilling,  an effort that helped table both those bills after they had gained bipartisan support.

On a new site it calls The Internet Blueprint PK posted versions of legislative proposals that would shorten copyright terms; institute penalties for unsupported takedown notices; reduce copyright owners' ability to include new laws and protections for IP rights holders in international agreements without public input; allow for the breaking of "digital locks" on content for legal purposes like criticism (currently the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) allows for such fair use, but not for circumventing copyright protections to excerpt the content; and other general fair-use friendly actions like prohibiting unfair warning notices.

For instance, the group wants the Federal Trade Commission's power to prevent unfair and deceptive practices to explicitly extend to copyright warnings that overstate a copyright holder's rights (like those signs that say a parking lot is not liable for damage).

"The bills on the site now are only the first step," said PK attorney Michael Weinberg, who is heading up the project. "Our goal is for people and organizations to propose their own ideas that can also be turned into draft legislation on other topics that will evolve into a positive agenda for Internet change.", whose members include Google and Yahoo!, was pleased with the new site. Executive director Markham Erickson, who was also instrumental in the Internet pushback against SOPA and PIPA, applauded the blueprint and the" robust" national conversation it was meant to generate.

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.