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Patent reform will take a bit longer to come about

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has taken its fair share of criticism of late, with some calling it a "broken" system.  Verdicts like the $1.92M USD verdict against Jammie Thomas-Rasset for sharing 24 songs (eventually reduced to $220,000 USD) or Apple, Inc. (AAPLthreatening to sue the New York City for using an Apple in a city greening campaign logo (Apple has sued other companies for using images of the fruit, claiming it owns trademark rights to all corporate artistic depictions of the fruit) have many convinced that the copyright system is in need of reform.

In a new request for public comment, that's part of a broader 122-page report, dubbed "Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy" [PDF], the Internet Policy Task Force -- a U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) working group -- writes:

In recent years, the debates over copyright have become increasingly contentious. Too often copyright and technology policies are seen as pitted against each other, as if a meaningful copyright system is antithetical to the innovative power of the Internet, or an open Internet will result in the end of copyright. We do not believe such a dichotomy is necessary or appropriate.

It alludes to recent audits which revealed rampant abuse of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act [PDF] (DMCA), including some businesses using fraudulent DMCA copyright infringement claims to temporarily takedown rival websites.  

Copyright Pirates
Copyright wars have raged for over a century in the U.S. as law clashed with new technologies.

The working group writes:

Establishing a multistakeholder dialogue on improving the operation of the notice and takedown system for removing infringing content from the Internet under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The Task Force says it will "convene roundtable" sessions of public, corporate leaders, and copyright watchdog groups (e.g. the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)).  It also says it will "solicit public comment".  The paper offered no details on when or where the public can take advantage of these opportunities, but it advises interested citizens to "stay tuned for announcements."

At this point some of you may be thinking -- "Great, that covers copyright, but what about patents?"

Recall, with government bureaucracy and public indignation there's a certain latency/suffering period between whenever things go to the metaphorical Hades in a hand basket and when the government finally feels compelled to take action.  The copyright wars largely raged in the early 2000s.  By 2010 the RIAA had mostly scuttled its campaign of threat letters against citizens and while flashy infringement battles continued to emerge, much of the worse abuses were already said and done.

Likewise the smartphone patent battles, and the general rise in patent trolling in the software industry -- a present tense battle that emerged in full effect around 2010 -- may not be resolved with reform until 2020 or later, perhaps.

Source: USPTO [PDF]



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RE: wow
By boobo on 8/20/2013 10:52:14 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure about #2. If the worse thing that can happen to you if you take your chances and illegally obtain a file is to pay the same amount that you'd pay if you had chosen to purchase the file instead... then why would anyone choose to buy the file legally?

#3 also has a problem. If students and low-income people who could never pay for CS6 get a "get out of jail free" card that allows them to pirate all Adobe products as much as they want because they'd be unable to buy it anyway, then you are effectively destroying all the companies that make paint programs almost as good as CS but at a small fraction of the price.


RE: wow
By spamreader1 on 8/21/2013 9:47:18 AM , Rating: 2
That's easy enough to fix though. Make a flat fine of somewhere ballpark $500-5000 only for the instance, and pay the retail value (at lowest retail cost, not necisarily msrp).

So you download 2000 songs, get busted. You pay a $500 fine + $1/song, so a total fine of $2500.


RE: wow
By spamreader1 on 8/21/2013 9:48:02 AM , Rating: 2
oh, and you get to keep those 2000 songs, since you for all intents and purposes have now purchased them as part of the process.


RE: wow
By Motoman on 8/21/2013 7:06:00 PM , Rating: 2
You've missed the point that it's still illegal - you're still going to get a criminal record out of the deal (presumably for a misdemeanor), and potentially have to pay court/attorney's fees.

Nobody's getting a get out of jail free card. You're still going to jail...well, probably not actually going to jail. But you are going to get arrested, charged with a crime, and tried in court. You'll have that on your record, and you'll have to pay for lawyers and whatever other costs are involved in getting arrested and tried for a crime.

I'm just talking about the actual fines that you're ordered to pay as part of that process.

Say you get caught making Adobe CS6 available in some filesharing thing...and the cops can prove that one person downloaded it. That one person clearly hasn't got the financial chops to have ever actually purchased a copy of CS6 on his own...so the fine is $0. But you still got arrested. Still got convicted. Have to pay $X in court costs and perhaps $Y in lawyers' fees.


"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis














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