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Commerce Department Seeks Comment on Protecting Copyrighted Works on the Internet

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Department's Internet Policy Task Force leads effort to keep Internet open for innovation

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force today issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking comment from all interested stakeholders - including rights holders, Internet service providers, and consumers - on the protection of copyrighted works online and the relationship between copyright law and innovation in the Internet economy. 

“The Department of Commerce has played an instrumental role in the development of policies that have helped digital commerce flourish,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “These policies explicitly recognize the legitimate rights and expectations of those whose creation and distribution of digital works strengthen our economy, expand our exports, and create jobs in America. Our ongoing challenge and commitment is to align the flexibility needed for innovation in the Internet economy with effective means of protecting copyrighted works that are accessible online.”

Considering the vital importance of the Internet in today’s society, the Department of Commerce has made it a top priority to ensure that the Internet remains open for innovation.  The initiative on Copyright Policy, Creativity and Innovation in the Internet economy seeks to identify policies that will:

1) Generate benefits for rights holders of creative works accessible online and make recommendations with respect to those who infringe on those rights;
2) Enable the robust and free flow of information to facilitate innovation and growth of the Internet economy; and
3) Ensure transparency and due process in cooperative efforts to build confidence in the Internet as a means of distributing copyrighted works.

The comments gathered through this NOI will be used by the Internet Policy Task Force in preparing a report that will contribute to the administration’s domestic policy and international engagement in the area of online copyright protection.

Today’s announcement and NOI represent one of many issue areas being tackled by the department’s Internet Policy Task Force, which Locke launched in April. The Task Force is comprised of staff members from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the International Trade Administration (ITA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), and is coordinated through Commerce’s Office of Policy and Strategic Planning, which reports to the Secretary.

Prior to releasing this NOI, the Task Force held dozens of listening sessions with a wide range of stakeholders over the first half of the year to better understand the current and most complex questions related to online copyright protection and the broader impact of content issues on innovation in the Internet economy.  The Task Force also convened a public meeting on July 1 to address these issues further, which included 20 speakers and representatives from a range of stakeholder groups.

Interested parties are encouraged to submit comments by e-mail to copyright-noi-2010[at]ntia.doc[dot]gov.  Comments filed in response to this NOI will be made available to the public on the Internet Policy Task Force website at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/category/internet-policy-task-force?type=All&field_month_list_value_many_to_one=February&date_filter%5Bvalue%5D%5Byear%5D=.  For this reason, comments should not include confidential, proprietary or sensitive business information.

More details concerning the NOI can be found in the Federal Register notice at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-24863.pdf.