Barack Obama is a proponent of Intellectual Property reform based on this definition: “Intellectual Property Reform is the strengthening of legislation, penalties, and enforcement dealing with Intellectual Property.” He stated, “We’re going to aggressively protect our intellectual property.” The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Songwriters Guild of America are strong advocates for reform too. Proponents of copyright reform would like to see change that is in the favor of the author or creator. The music, video game, and film industries are losing too much money via piracy especially on the Internet.
Different Copyright Reform
There are many types of reform that can take place. Not all proponents of copyright reform agree upon the same type of reform. Some advocates argue that copyright protection should be reduced significantly to a more sensible time frame. The punishment for copyright infringement is worse than attempted murder. In addition, they believe that it is unconstitutional in the Supreme Court case Eldred v. Ashcroft because it was ruled that continuous copyright extensions are not permanent. Some proponents also argue for change because statutory damages are too high. Furthermore, they believe there needs to be an improvement on fair use. Samuelson Clinic Director Jennifer M. Urban affirmed: “The recent explosion in digital tools and open communication platforms drives innovation, creativity and access to information and has been profoundly positive for society---but uncertainty about liability can stymie creators and innovators. Updating the fair use doctrine to best support these activities while protecting copyright holders will help copyright fulfill its purpose to stimulate expression and encourage innovation.” They argue that high damages inhibit originality and ingenuity. Also, there needs to be reform because many of the exceptions to copyright protection are obsolete with newer technologies. Compensation should be provided to anyone that is falsely accused of copyright infringement. The music licensing regulations need to be reorganized to promote different ways of selling music. Some other changes that are being proposed to copyright reform are lowering the length of copyright for non-registered works to three to five years, making registered work re-register every five to seven years, increasing the registration fee, defining punishments for infringements, and failing to re-register a copyright should thrust the work into the public domain.
Patent reformists argue that patents are too easily obtained and too complicated to dispute. They believe that there should be a post-grant process that would allow for more challenges to patents therefore weeding out irrelevant patents. Also, proponents disagree with the current first-to-invent patent model. Instead, they would like to change to first-to-file model, in other words first-inventor-to-file. The United States is the only country that uses the first-to-invent model. In addition, advocates for reform would like the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to only grant patents that are of high quality.
Reformists believe that change will spur economic development. They argue that reform is all about creating jobs and bringing about innovation. Also, there is a belief that patent reform will eliminate unnecessary patent litigation. Most litigation cases are involved where damages are sought for money and nothing else. Matt Tanielian, director of government relations for Cisco, said that they spend 45 million dollars a year defending themselves against patent claims. “There’s a lot of bad patents out there,” he said. “When you get sued, you ought to get a fair shake.” Microsoft Corporation, IBM Corporation, and Cisco Systems Inc. have disputed that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) approve too many problematic patents. They also argue that it is too simple for patent holders to sue and collect colossal damages. Critics have said patent lawsuits arise from corporations that make all their money by owning patents. For the most part, small businesses, biotech companies, universities, high-tech companies, pharmaceutical companies and traditional manufacturers are strong patent reformists. They all depend on a robust intellectual property system.
The biggest argument in opposition of reform is privacy. If legislation passes for copyright reform then there will be more freedoms taken from consumers. Privacy rights could be infringed upon if the music, film and video game industry get the copyright protection they are seeking. Internet Service Providers are against copyright reform because they are making more money with the current laws in place. Change to copyright law is inevitable it is just a matter of how much change.
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), and the United Steelworkers oppose patent reform. The AFL, CIO and the United Steelworkers disagree with the way the patent reform legislation would alter how courts allocate damages when a business has infringed a patent. The groups also questioned how the reform legislation would allow a new way of challenging patents after they're issued.