The Internet Blueprint: A positive copyright reform proposal from the US

The popular backlash against SOPA and PIPA revealed a deep discontent among people, both in the U.S. and in other parts of the world, at the way copyright policy is formulated, the interests it seeks to advance, and the means it uses to advance them. This popular energy can and should be used not only to prevent harmful initiatives like SOPA and PIPA but also to bring about positive changes in copyright law and policy.

Public Knowledge, a public interest group based in Washington, D.C., is spearheading one such effort, called the Internet Blueprint. It is a series of proposals to modernize areas of law that touch the Internet. The first proposals focus on copyright and intellectual property law. Going forward, we plan to include other areas of law, such as privacy, that affect our freedoms on the Internet.

The proposal related to intellectual property and international trade may be of particular interest to readers of this blog.  It seeks to reform the process by which the intellectual property chapters of trade agreements are negotiated. The proposal would change U.S. law in order to mandate that these agreements be negotiated in a more open and inclusive manner. Specifically, it directs the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to make negotiating texts public and requires that public interest representatives are part of the trade advisory committees that influence the USTR. Other parts of the Internet Blueprint call for reforms that would strengthen fair use, make DRM more consumer friendly, and make the notice and takedown process fair.

Although these proposals primarily represent an attempt to reform U.S. law, they would benefit from input from people in other countries. It is our hope to learn more about positive copyright reform efforts in your countries as well as how current regimes are impacting your rights.

For the past two decades, copyright norm setting in both the United States (U.S.) and multilateral forums has moved away from a focus on public interest to a focus on increasing the welfare of large corporations. Countries, led by the U.S and the European Union, have been pushing for standards of protection and enforcement broader and stronger than those established by the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Remarkably missing has been a concern for the rights of the public, including basic rights to free expression and due process. The Internet Blueprint is our attempt to push back against this norm.

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