IP Czar Releases Annual Copyright Enforcement Report

BY Ali Sternburg
April 3, 2012

Victoria Espinel, the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), recently released her annual report on intellectual property enforcement.  This post touches on just one part of the report—the Administration’s renewed endorsement of a need for legislation “to address offshore infringement and counterfeiting,” even after the massive outcry against SOPA, and without acknowledgement of the public’s voiced opposition and its impact.

Although it is admittedly a report on IP enforcement, this report was very one-sided.  For example, the report discussed “victims/rightholders” and how “it is important that the Federal government and rightholders work together” and that IPEC will continue to “encourage communication and information sharing efforts.”  The public was left out of this dialogue, as were other clear stakeholders like the technology products and services that facilitate this communication and information sharing.

There were few mentions of PROTECT IP and SOPA, and when these bills were acknowledged, there was little recognition of their flaws, and no acknowledgement of the impact that American Internet users had on these bills’ decline, due to objections about the bills’ content and process.  An excerpt from page 34 of the report reads:

We believe that new legislative and non-legislative tools are needed to address offshore infringement and counterfeiting and call on all stakeholders to work cooperatively together[.]  On January 15, we released a statement in response to a We the People petition setting out the Administration’s position[.]

The response recognizes that online piracy is a serious problem, but also makes it clear that the Administration will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk (including authority to tamper with the DNS system), or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet[.]

The Administration is interested in working with Congress to ensure that these issues are addressed in a manner that takes into account the challenges and opportunities of the Internet and that is consistent with the Administration’s goals and public policy principles[.]

This segment does “call on all stakeholders,” and CCIA is hopeful that when the Administration “work[s] with Congress” they will include the interests of the opposition to the bills voiced by the public, Internet engineers, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and innovators, artists and creators, academics and educators, human rights advocates, and many, many others.

CCIA and its members recognize the problem of international commercial piracy, and are pleased to see the inclusion of the OPEN Act, a bill that CCIA supports.  However, the report could have reflected a greater awareness of the historic events surrounding the January 18, 2012 blackout, the impact they had on SOPA and PROTECT IP’s demise in this Congress, and the influence they may have going forward on intellectual property law and policy.  But change can’t occur if the government continues to strategically ignore details from history; they must listen to all voices in legislation and enforcement going forward.

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