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The new federal copyright cop, Victoria Espinel, has asked for your opinions on how the U.S. government should enforce copyrights. Until March 24th, you have the chance to tell the federal government how copyright enforcement and copyright infringement affect you, and how the government can improve its enforcement policies.
The request for comments seems geared to take in complaints from big media companies and other major holders of copyrights, patents, and trademarks—it starts out by asking commenters to "identify the threats" posed to the country by infringement, before asking for recommendations on how to improve enforcement efforts. Too often, we see requests like this crowded with inflated statistics of lost sales and calls for draconian enforcement measures that take a shotgun approach to a complex situation.
But the submissions aren't just open to major corporations; they're open to everyday consumers, citizens, and members of the public. So now's your chance to give the government your input on enforcement ideas like Internet filtering, three-strikes policies, ACTA, and more.
Filing a comment is easy—just follow these steps:
Review the following suggested comments and make any changes you desire. Remember to add your name at the end of the comments, below the "Sincerely."
Re: Comments on the Joint Strategic Plan
Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator
Office of Management and Budget
Executive Office of the President
Filed via email
Dear Ms. Espinel:
Any strategic plans for enforcement of intellectual property should measure all of the costs and benefits involved. Enforcement has its own costs to citizens and consumers, especially when legal uses of copyrighted works can be mistaken for infringement.
The Joint Strategic Plan should carefully examine the basis for claims of losses due to infringement, and measure credible accounts of those losses against all of the consequences of proposed enforcement measures, good and bad.
Measures like cutting off Internet access in response to alleged copyright infringement can do more harm than good. Internet connections are not merely entertainment or luxuries; they provide vital communication links, often including basic phone service. This is even more clearly unfair in cases where users are falsely or mistakenly accused.
Internet service providers should not be required or asked to violate users' privacy in the name of copyright enforcement beyond the scope of the law. Efforts to require or recommend that ISPs inspect users' communications should not be part of the Joint Strategic Plan.
The anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act can criminalize users who are simply trying to make legal uses of the media they have bought. Breaking digital locks on media should not be a crime unless they are being broken for illegal purposes. The government should not spend its resources targeting circumventions for legitimate purposes.
Any plans or agreements on IP enforcement, like the proposed Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) should be made open and transparent. In dealing with questions of copyright and the Internet, too much is at stake for our country's laws and policies to be made out of the public eye.
- If you use webmail (like Yahoo! Mail, Windows Live Mail, Gmail, etc.), select all the comment text by clicking IN the box above, choose "Select All" from your browser's "Edit" menu, and copy the selected text by choosing "Copy" from the your browser's "Edit" menu. Then open up your webmail, create a new message, and in the body of the message, and then choose "Paste" from your browser's "Edit" menu.
- Once you've selected your comment text, send it in an email to email@example.com. You may want to use the email subject "Comments on the Joint Strategic Plan". Then click send.
- If you use an email application on your computer (like Outlook, Entourage, Mail.app, etc.) and you'd like to just pre-populate an email with the message and edit the text in the message window, simply click here. Again, don't forget to write your name below the "Sincerely" at the end of the message.
Comments are due by 5 p.m. on March 24th, so take this opportunity to make your voice heard and call for a balanced approach to enforcement that respects consumers' and users' rights.
Remember: your comments become part of the public record.