The National Academy of Sciences has released advanced copies of its long awaited study, “Copyright in the Digital Era: Building Evidence for Policy.” The study provides a roadmap of how copyright laws have changed as distribution of content moves online.
The multi-year study began well before policy missteps like SOPA that would have given the entertainment industry new tools to compel others to police for copyright infringement, but at a significant cost to the digital economy and legal communication by Internet users.
Many have hoped this study would help provide some direction aside from what the Government Accountability Office ruled were bogus numbers from the entertainment industry on the costs of copyright infringement.
The study said additional research on the costs and benefits of copyright exceptions could help policymakers better understand and determine the appropriate scope and length of copyright protection as well as safe harbors and exceptions to copyright.
The NAS report cited one of the Computer & Communications Industry Association’s Fair Use studies on the economic contributions of companies relying on copyright exceptions that make up one-sixth of the US GDP.
CCIA’s most recent Fair Use study is here.
The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:
“After years of a more-is-better approach to copyright protection, it is important to have evidence-based policy making, and we appreciate the efforts of all those who helped the NAS produce a thorough report on this issue. We agree with the conclusion that for too long the copyright policy debate has been ‘poorly informed by independent empirical research.’
“This thorough new study helps advance the discussion about our digital economy and copyright rules. This report makes it clear that we must be careful how we try to fix our copyright system, which has been out of kilter and biased in favor of the entertainment and content industry for years.
“Any future serious copyright overhaul should start by reviewing the original principles of the copyright system and the options to achieve those goals. It’s important to remember that our current copyright regulatory system bestows enormous legal powers and subsidies. We must evaluate to what extent these subsidies are justified and what are the costs and consequences of various, alternative options.
“There is no doubt the copyright system needs major reform, but attention is needed to ensure that any further copyright enforcement measures really hit their target and that any real gains do not come at the expense of other industries that make up our digital economy. More importantly, the Internet has become such a key communications and economic tool that we should carefully consider what any new policy would mean for the future of user posted content and other legal communications. We shouldn’t have to institute Internet censorship in some misguided attempt to wipe out every instance of online infringement and we’re glad this report sees the need for balance and care in crafting future copyright reforms.”