Every rising garage rock band or upstart emcee knows that when you’ve got a bunch of untested new material, one of the smartest things you can do is to load up the van and take your new stuff out on the road to see what the audience thinks.
Well, that’s exactly what the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) are doing. Last year the Internet Task Force at the Dept. of Commerce authored a massive “Green Paper” addressing a wide range of digital copyright issues and asked for public comments. After an initial round of feedback, now they’re taking it on the road, hosting four roundtables around the country for the purpose of soliciting more public feedback to inform the agency’s recommendations. And you’re invited!
Confused by the colorful lingo? Let’s review. A green paper is a tenative report assembling policy ideas for debate and discussion without any commitment to action. Often a green paper is a precursor to a white paper, a more authoritative statement of an entity’s official point of view. And ultimately, white papers can lead to the drafting and introduction of legislation or other forms of government action, including the facilitation of voluntary initiatives. Thus, the Internet Task Force’s green paper is one important step in a larger process of trying to understand the benefits and shortcomings of existing copyright law as it plays out in the internet age. But for this process to reflect the unique perspectives and needs of musicians, songwriters and indie labels, it’s important that they step up and participate.
Full information is available here; dates and locations are as follows:
|Nashville, TN||May 21, 2014||April 30, 2014|
|Cambridge, MA||June 25, 2014||June 4, 2014|
|Los Angeles, CA||July 29, 2014||July 8, 2014|
|Berkeley, CA||July 30, 2014||July 9, 2014
Topics at these public roundtables are set to include:
the relevance and scope of the first sale doctrine in the digital environment. Among other things, this covers issues like the legality of selling “used” MP3s and other digital files in a manner analogous to a used CD or LP.
the appropriate calibration of statutory damages in the contexts of (i) individual file sharers and (ii) secondary liability for large-scale infringement. Today, basically everyone agrees that massive damages against individual internet users engaging in small-scale unauthorized file-swapping is a futile pursuit. But who should be on the hook, and for how much?
To participate or observe these meetings in person, you need to register. They will also be webcast; agendas and webcast information will be available a week before each of the roundtables on the Task Force Web site, and the USPTO’s Web Site.