Sunday, January 31, 2016

No Digital First Sale Rights For Now

I am pleased to report that authors' incomes will not--for the time being--be further decimated by "First Sale Doctrine" being applied to e-books.

A report issued today by the U.S. Department of Commerce recommends amendments to copyright law that would provide courts with both more guidance and greater flexibility in awarding statutory damages.
In its "White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory Damages," the Department’s Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) sets forth its conclusions on three important copyright topics in the digital age: (1) the legal framework for the creation of remixes; (2) the relevance and scope of the “first sale doctrine;” and (3) the appropriate calibration of statutory damages in the contexts of individual file sharers and secondary liability for large-scale infringement. 
The White Paper recommends amending the Copyright Act to incorporate a list of factors for courts and juries to consider when determining the amount of a statutory damages award. In addition, it advises changes to remove a bar to eligibility for the Act’s “innocent infringer” provision, and to lessen the risk of excessive statutory damages in the context of non-willful secondary liability for online service providers. 
With respect to remixes and the first sale doctrine in the digital environment, the report concludes that the evidence has not established a need for changes to the Copyright Act at this time. The Task Force makes several recommendations, however, to make it easier for remixers to understand when a use is fair and to obtain licenses when they wish to do so. It also recommends the development of best practices by stakeholders to improve consumers’ understanding of the terms of online transactions involving creative works. Finally it notes the need to continue to monitor legal and marketplace developments to ensure that library lending and preservation concerns are addressed.
In making its recommendations, the Task Force was mindful of the need to protect copyrights effectively while also promoting innovation on the Internet.
This new report follows up on issues first discussed in a 2013 IPTF Green Paper, "Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy," and is the product of two sets of written comments and five public meetings and roundtables conducted through the following year.
The IPTF is made up of representatives from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and other Commerce Department agencies. 
The White Paper and additional background information can be found online at:

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