Digital Copyright, in Moderation

The Center for Democracy and Technology proposes a “moderate” scheme for protecting copyright on the internet: Protecting Copyright and Internet Values: A Balanced Path Forward

This paper seeks to outline a general framework for addressing the problem of copyright infringement on the Internet in a balanced fashion. In CDT’s view, a combination of robust enforcement of copyright law to make infringement unattractive and technical protections for online content offers the best possibility of fostering vibrant new markets for content delivery, consistent with innovation and the open architecture of the Internet.

The paper essentially recommends a slight variation on the status quo. This plan woill enforce copyrights by:

  1. Punishing bad actors
  2. Encouraging a marketplace of content‐protective and consumer‐friendly Digital Rights Management (“DRM”)
  3. Better public education by trusted voices

Ernest Miller considers the CDT approach to be balanced entirely on the side of publishers and against users: CDT’s ‘Balanced Framework’ for Copyright Completely Unbalanced: “I think the CDT report favors the stick a bit much, treats citizen/creators as mere consumers, doesn’t consider structural reform of copyright law, and doesn’t provide much in the way of a carrot, among other flaws.”
Ed Felten examines the section on DRM: CDT Closes Eyes, Wishes for Good DRM: “Here CDT’s strategy is essentially to wish that we lived on a planet where DRM could be consumer-friendly while preventing infringement. They’re smart enough not to claim that we live on such a planet now, only that people hope that we will soon.”
Patrick Ross, of The Progress and Freedom Foundation, finds more to like in the paper: Minding the Middle Ground:

I remain on the lookout for those seeking the middle ground in the copyright debate, and that search has brought me to an impressive document by the Center for Democracy & Technology. “Protecting Copyright and Internet Values: A Balanced Path Forward” attempts what few are willing to do — find a balance between copyright protection and preservation of Internet freedom. I find myself largely in agreement with their stated preferences, and while I differ somewhat with CDT on how those preferences are defined, I still welcome this paper to the debate.