The Copyright Reforms You Want


There’s been a lot of talk these past few days. Mark Helprin kicked off much of the recent debate with his Wall Street Journal opinion, which in turn was a follow-up to his book, which I panned in my review.

However, the more recent debate has been characterized by a chorus of different (and diverging) voices. Seemingly agreeing with Helprin and seeking reforms to put “guardrails” on the Web is Sony CEO Michael Lynton. Predominantly anti-copyright TechDirt provided their answer to his arguments. Somewhere in the center is Gary Shapiro, the president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Assocation, who is calling for a more balanced approach to copyright to ensure innovation, especially in terms of technology, is not hampered.

With all of the talk about copyright reform of all varieties, I wanted to pose the question to you, what reforms (if any) would you like to see?

As a starting point, here are eight topics that seem to be of extreme interest:

  1. Copyright Term: How long should copyright last? The current in the U.S. is life plus seventy years for works of individual authorship and 95 years for works of corporate authorship.
  2. Fair Use: What changes, if any, should be made to the four factor test?
  3. Anti-Circumvention: Should copyright holders have the right to “lock out” consumers through digital locks, even if the intended use would otherwise be legal? What should the exceptions be?
  4. Notice and Takedown: Should the system for demanding removal of infringing works be altered and, if so, how?
  5. Personal Use Exemption and Format Shifting: What rights should a user have over legally-purchased content. Should the personal use exemption be expanded to cover file sharing?
  6. ISPs Roles: What role, if any, should ISPs have in stopping piracy? What of “three strikes” regimes?
  7. Registration Requirements: Should the U.S. continue with its registration requirement before filing suit?
  8. Infringement Penalties: What should the civil/criminal infringement penalties be?

Obviously, there are more issues but these are the ones that seem to be in the public consciousness the most lately and the ones being most hotly debated.

This is not an attempt at a formal survey, but an attempt to start a conversation on these issues. I’ve said my piece on most of these many times before but I want to hear what others say and what their arguments are. I encourage everyone, from the extreme pro-copyright to the extreme anti-copyright to participate. The only thing that I do ask for is respect and courtesy.

I look forward to reading your thoughts.

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