Digital Liberty partnered with American Commitment, the Center for Individual Freedom, the Discovery Institute, Frontiers of Freedom, and the Property Rights Alliance to file comments with the Patent and Trademark Office and The National Telecommunications and Information Administration outlining principles for government’s role in the digital content industry.
The digital content market is innovating rapidly, with new services such as Hulu, Netflix, iTunes Radio, and Google Play emerging all the time. The Internet thrives on the free market, and the government shouldn’t intervene in negotiations and contracts in the online industry. Instead, it should focus on protecting intellectual property rights because piracy threatens to destroy the market by devaluing products and services that legitimate businesses spent billions of dollars creating.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) created a notice and takedown system which has been an efficient way to remove content which infringes on copyright. However, copyright infringement is still prevalent online. According to a recent study by NetNames, “absolute infringing bandwidth use increased [in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific] by 159.3% between 2010 and 2012…This figure represents 23.8% of the total bandwidth used by all internet users, residential and commercial, in these three regions.” The NTIA and PTO should help by encouraging voluntary, market-based initiatives similar to the Copyright Alert System (CAS). When customers access pirated content they are made aware of the fact and guided to a legal source for obtaining the content. The CAS is made possible by the cooperation of the movie and music industries and major Internet Service Providers. It demonstrates that free market collaboration is a viable source for reducing copyright infringement.
The proper role for government in the digital content industry is to enforce intellectual property rights and to facilitate cooperation between creators and distributors. This is the path forward to a thriving, innovative Internet marketplace.