July 6, 2017 | Article

Eliminating Internet Safe Harbors Hurts The U.S. Economy

One of the most important parts of the internet – and what makes it so attractive and useful to so many people – is the ability to search for and store information at the click of a button. Intermediary liability safe harbors play a critical role in making that possible.These safe harbors protect internet platforms (called intermediaries) – such as Google, Dropbox, Facebook, Snap, among others – from being held liable for the content of their users, ensuring consumers can experience the internet that we’ve come to know and love.

Put in place in 1996 and 1998 respectively, Congress established two intermediary safe harbors – Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and Section 512 of the Copyright Act enacted by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act – to create space for innovation and spur investment to further develop the internet’s capabilities.

So what would happen if they disappeared?

New economic analysis from NERA Economic Consulting took a look at the very question by estimating the impact of reducing the protections offered by safe harbor laws.

The analysis finds weakening intermediary liability safe harbor protections would significantly reduce economic activity in the internet sector, causing the U.S. economy to lose 4.25 million jobs and nearly half a trillion dollars in the next 10 years. That’s equivalent to giving away the annual GDP of Iceland, Jamaica, and Nicaragua combined and firing all McDonald’s workers in the U.S each year.

As one of America’s most dynamic and successful industries, the internet sector is driving economic growth, doubling its share of the U.S. economy between 2007 and 2014. Reducing liability protections not only hurts the internet sector; it harms the entire U.S. economy.

To quantify the impact of making intermediaries responsible for all user content, researchers used consumer surveys focused on two internet intermediary services – search engine and cloud storage – to calculate the average decrease in consumer use of these services and resulting estimated decrease in revenue. The findings? The fall in consumer demand due to more advertisements (in search engines) and higher costs (for cloud services) would result in a combined 10 percent revenue drop for these services, resulting in lost jobs and reduced economic activity.

But internet intermediaries include far more than these two services; they span data storage, internet access, internet telephony, cloud computing, social media, internet advertising, and e-commerce to name a few. The NERA analysis applies the 10 percent revenue drop as an indicator of the economic impact to the entire internet sector, of which search engine and cloud services make up only 18 percent.

By applying the findings to all intermediaries, the study finds that without internet liability:

  • The U.S. economy would lose an estimated $44 billion in GDP & more than 425,000 jobs each year. That’s equivalent to giving away the annual GDP of Iceland, Jamaica, and Nicaragua combined and firing all McDonald’s workers in the U.S.
  • Internet startups would face higher entry costs, limiting innovation. Without intermediary liability safe harbors, startups – and the VC’s that fund them – won’t be able to test new ideas without facing unreasonable liability and high expenses.
  • Consumers would face higher costs and worsened online user experience. It is economically and technologically unfeasible for platforms to screen third-party content at scale. Loss of the intermediary liability safe harbors would mean fewer and worse services online.

Safe harbor protections were put in place for a reason. With a thriving internet economy, American businesses and consumers are able to connect with billions of people to access and share information. Even more, they are now depending on services such as ride-sharing apps, e-commerce sites, and social media – all of which are enabled by an internet that allows for free expression and content creation.

Safe harbor laws provide a foundation for innovation and drive economic growth. Preserving them is key to ensuring the best internet and economy for America.

Read NERA’s full report here.

May 1, 2017 | Article

Error 404: Alice and Section 101 of the Patent Act

In 2014, the Supreme Court issued a key opinion in Alice Corp v. CLS Bank International that rejected low-quality patent claims that failed to meet legal criteria. Recently, certain interest groups – dissatisfied with the requirement that patents not cover abstract ideas or simple business methods on a computer – have started shopping the idea that Congress should “fix” recent court cases like Alice. Judicial application of Section 101 to nascent technologies consistent with the law is not new: for over 100 years, from the telegraph to the internet, courts have successfully applied the abstractness exception to provide patentees’ guidance on appropriate tests for subject matter eligibility. Below, we clear up a few of the rumors swirling around Section 101 post-Alice and sum up the reasons legislation is unnecessary and misguided.


Myth: Alice undermined patent rights.

Fact: Alice confirmed Section 101 of the Patent Act plays an important role in ensuring that patents encourage innovation rather than hinder it by focusing on real advances in technology rather than broad, vague business methods and abstract ideas.

Alice didn’t change the law: it restored balance and quality standards intended to provide patent protection for truly useful, novel ideas under Section 101.

Section 101 of the Patent Act defines patent-eligible subject matter: “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof” is patent-eligible. Software and servers that implement novel and useful processes that provide a technical solution to a technical problem, for example, are eligible for patenting under Section 101. For over 150 years, Section 101 has been key to the notion that abstract ideas and laws of nature cannot be patented because they can be used by all to foster unique inventions.

In Alice, the Supreme Court struck down the validity of patent claims that recited a non-technical abstract idea under the judicial exception for abstract ideas under Section 101. Many of the patent claims invalidated citing Alice cover simple, non-technical ideas that were performed using the routine functions of a computer or the internet, like upselling to customers in an online store, buying an airline ticket online, sending emails with package tracking information or managing a bingo game. In sum, “doing it on a computer” for abstract ideas doesn’t qualify for a patent.

Although these patents might have described using a computer or the internet, they did not contain any inventions or technical advances that improved the operation of a computer.


Myth: The test for subject matter eligibility is too unpredictable post-Alice.

Fact: The courts have provided clear guidance on testing for abstractness, ensuring that patent applicants, the public, and the Patent and Trademark Office can focus on high-quality patents.

The courts have provided the public and the PTO clear and appropriate guidance. They have distinguished between ineligible claims that simply recite results accomplished by software, and eligible claims that specify the inventor’s method for achieving a result and technical contribution.

There is no need for Congress to legislate: in fact legislation attempting to provide specific industries with endless, low-quality patents would create confusion by upending the discernable test put forward in the courts and providing a new source of fuel for trolls seeking to crush innovation.


Myth: Software is no longer patentable under current law.

Fact: Software remains patentable under current law, and the PTO continues to issue large numbers of software patents. What isn’t patentable are abstract, vague ideas that don’t meet legal standards.

Courts have confirmed that technical software inventions are patent-eligible following the holding in Alice. For example, as the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently explained in Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., software remains patentable following the Alice decision when the patent fulfills its intended purpose of protecting innovation by claiming an advance that improves the operation of a computer by providing a technical solution to a technical problem.

More recently, in McRo v. Bandai Namco Games, the Federal Circuit found software claims directed to a technological improvement over existing software animation techniques were patent-eligible. Many other cases have also found that technical software inventions are patentable. PTO continues to issue software patents, and is additionally ensuring that examiners have guidance on how to properly evaluate claims to make sure they meet the standards reiterated by Alice.


Myth: Legislation to clarify Alice would be helpful to innovators and simply restore previous law.

Fact: Attempts to legislate on subject matter eligibility would create a new wave of the vague, abstract patents that fuel patent trolls and in turn stifle true innovation.

Several groups have proposed legislation to “clarify” the Alice decision, including a recent proposal by the Intellectual Property Owner’s Association that would vastly expand the ideas that can be patented… to basically everything. What wouldn’t be patentable under this proposal? Only inventions that “exist solely in the human mind.”

This extreme, sweeping change to Section 101 would mean that only the use of patents to attempt mind control are ineligible. Low quality patents invalidated in unanimous cases like Bilski and Alice would become patent eligible, and overly broad patents asserted by patent trolls but invalidated under Section 101 since Alice would survive too, like the patents on distributing free photographs with embedded advertising, managing a bingo game, and optimizing retail prices.

Broad claims that tie up the use of abstract ideas in any field are bad for innovation because they grant a monopoly where no investment in R&D or other technological contribution has been made to society. When asserted, these patents tax companies that did the work and made the investment to develop and bring new products and services to market while fueling patent trolls that are stifling innovation.

Calls for legislation are unnecessary and misguided. Instead, Congress should focus on efforts to fight patent abuse and promote innovation.

April 26, 2017 | Article

Recognizing World IP Day

On April 26 each year, the World Intellectual Property Organization celebrates “World Intellectual Property Day.” This year, WIPO explains the theme as “explor[ing] how innovation is making our lives healthier, safer, and more comfortable, turning problems into progress…at how the intellectual property system supports innovation by attracting investment, rewarding creators, encouraging them to develop their ideas, and ensuring that their new knowledge is freely available so that tomorrow’s innovators can build on today’s new technology.”

It is no accident that the United States is home to the most creative and advanced technology industries in the world. From our founding, our nation’s leaders recognized that delicate balance in IP necessary to foster tomorrow’s innovators:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. – US Constitution 

To achieve this balance, the law must rightly reward creators and innovators with protection for novel, useful ideas and unique expressions, while at the same time considering the public’s interest in accessibility of works and the ability to build upon prior works for the future.

A timely and critical example of achieving this balance is in the post grant review procedures set forth in 2011’s America Invents Act. Recognizing that low quality patents ultimately stifled innovation by shifting resources away from development and into frivolous litigation, Congress provided the Patent and Trademark Office with new procedures to quickly and fairly weed out patents that should’ve never been granted in the first place. Prioritizing high-quality work over pure quantity of patent claims provides reward for truly novel ideas while allowing innovators to fuel tomorrow’s advancements without trolls getting in their way. The result is a balanced system that fosters new technological advancements.

Another longstanding and foundational example of balance in the copyright context is fair use – a doctrine that provides important flexibilities for content to be reproduced for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. Industries relying on fair use generated $4.6 billion in revenue according to a 2011 report, and this foundational doctrine serves as a touchstone to the US internet economy. Fair use facilitates access and expression, including in the form of follow-on works that in turn fuel further creativity.

Policymakers work is far from done on maintaining this delicate balance;

in the face of new technologies, there are constant threats both domestically and in global markets to upend these efforts. Lawmakers must remain committed to the best policies for the public interest in innovation and creativity, rather than the narrow interests of specific industries.

March 31, 2017 | Article

Digital Trade A Key Focus In This Year’s National Trade Estimate

Today, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) released the 2017 National Trade Estimate (NTE) Report. The NTE is the administration’s annual review of significant foreign trade barriers. For this year’s report, IA submitted comments on key barriers in nearly 60 countries that impede U.S. small businesses, manufacturers, and users from leveraging the internet to export their goods and services abroad. We were pleased to see USTR address many of these barriers to internet-driven trade in this year’s report.

Why do digital trade barriers matter to U.S. economic growth and employment? The internet economy is responsible for 6 percent of U.S. GDP and more than 3 million American jobs. The U.S. has an incredible $159 billion trade surplus in digitally-deliverable services. Digital trade has added up to 2.4 million jobs to the U.S. economy. Yet this critical trade-enabling function of the internet is under threat, as internet services and apps face barriers and discriminatory treatment in foreign markets. Countries are increasingly implementing policies that limit the free flow of data, require data be stored in certain locations, use unbalanced intellectual property frameworks to block or limit U.S. exports, apply legacy public utility regulations to online services, or unreasonably impose liability on platforms that power trade for hundreds of thousands of U.S. small businesses. Removing these barriers can unlock significant U.S. economic growth through trade for nearly every sector of the U.S. economy.

IA welcomes this year’s NTE report and is encouraged by the administration’s commitment to digital trade as highlighted by the release of USTR’s “Key Barriers to Digital Trade” fact sheet. For the first time, USTR considered a number of new barriers to digital trade, including “unreasonable burdens on internet platforms for non-IP-related liability for user-generated content and activity.” In addition, USTR identified a number of specific market access barriers they will focus on in the coming year, including EU measures on “ancillary copyright” and “neighboring rights,” EU copyright filtering obligations, unreasonable intermediary liability obligations in countries like Thailand and India, application of legacy regulations to so-called “over-the-top” internet services in Indonesia and Vietnam, Chinese restrictions on U.S. cloud service providers, China’s extensive blocking of legitimate websites, and many other emerging digital barriers.

IA looks forward to working with USTR in the coming year to tackle these critical barriers to digital trade.

March 20, 2017 | Article

ICANN’S WHOIS Database, The Next Frontier: EU Data Protection

by: Abigail Slater, Internet Association General Counsel

IA attended ICANN58 in Copenhagen last week and was grateful to the ICANN board and staff to be included in a panel discussion with EU data protection commissioners and the Council of Europe.  The purpose of the panel was to discuss EU data protection principles and their application to the WHOIS database in particular.

For those who work in the domain name system (DNS) space, the publicly available WHOIS database is the glue that holds the internet together.  It is probably the most centralized function in an otherwise decentralized network, and it needs to be.  Imagine a world in which we had no way of pinning down who owns a website: is it the company that has poured billions of dollars (or any other currency) into building the business, or is it a Russian cyber hacker?  Thanks to WHOIS, we can sort the good guys from the bad.  WHOIS also plays a critical role in defending the network from attack, including denial of service attacks.  And we know that when the DNS is under attack, many of the internet applications we have come to rely on to get through the day can be badly impacted, sometimes even on a global scale.  

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Because the WHOIS database is so critical to the DNS, it was even included in the 2009 Affirmation of Commitments between the U.S. government and ICANN, which have since become part of ICANN’s bylaws.  The Affirmation of Commitments laid the foundation for last year’s successful transition of ICANN’s IANA function from U.S. government control to the multistakeholder ICANN community, an important goal supported by the Internet Association and its members.  

WHOIS serves an important – even critical – role in holding the internet together, but it’s not perfect. Among the loudest critics of WHOIS are EU privacy enforcers who are concerned that a publicly available database containing personally identifiable information (“PII” in privacy-speak) is a red flag under EU data protection law.  This concern came to the fore at ICANN this week when several EU data protection commissioners and the Council of Europe came to ICANN for the first time.  On the panel, the EU privacy advocates explained at a high level the data protection principles they apply in their roles.  They also explained that these principles are soon to be backed up by massive fining powers (up to 4 percent of global revenues) when a new EU data protection law kicks in next year, making it time for the ICANN community to sit up and listen to them.  Unfortunately, however, the data protection officials did not apply those principles to ICANN in general or WHOIS specifically.  

Also on the panel, Internet Association argued that in order to join issue with the ICANN community on WHOIS and to provide legal certainty to businesses, guidance from the data protection commissioners beyond talking about general principles should be provided soon (and preferably before massive fines are levied).  We also argued that we live in a world of competing equities, and while data protection is an important equity, so is the stability and security of the DNS from a DoS attack – something that has equally negative consequences for consumer privacy.  Similarly, there are important equities at stake in WHOIS beyond data protection, since it is a key tool used to combat fraud and trademark infringement.  Ultimately, however, the number one equity at ICANN – ICANN’s core mission – is protecting and preserving a stable and resilient DNS.  At the end of the day, this is the equity that comes before all others and WHOIS is the glue that binds the DNS together.  

The EU data protection enforcers’ position raises several questions for the ICANN community: how will their law apply to WHOIS?  What is its reach?  What data is implicated when much of WHOIS is populated by technical jargon and not sensitive personal data?  Will the data protection commissioners take into account the critical role that WHOIS plays under ICANN’s bylaws in holding the DNS together when they enforce their data protection law?  Will they weigh competing equities such as protecting the network from DoS attacks and other forms of fraud and abuse?

We are grateful to ICANN for including us in this important discussion and we look forward to hearing more from the ICANN community and staff on this issue.  As the IANA transition taught us, having an honest, bottom-up conversation about important issues is the best and only path forward for the community and its stakeholders.

February 24, 2017 | Article

Protecting the digital economy in Japan

By Michael Beckerman, President & CEO of Internet Association

Japan is often described as the world’s most tech-obsessed nation. It has a global reputation for innovation, and for years Japanese tech giants – Sony, Hitachi and Panasonic, to name but a few – were dominant industry leaders that pioneered products loved by the world over.

While Japan was slow to take advantage of the burgeoning internet economy, tech-friendly reforms over the past decade designed to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship are beginning to bear fruit and Japan is now home to a vibrant and thriving start-up ecosystem.

Japan’s growth strategy to realize the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which aims to boost investment in innovation and technology, recognizes the urgency of introducing new mechanisms for regulation that support the internet economy. The government’s plan to promote the sharing economy is also a welcome step that will allow local and international startups to grow and thrive.

The sharing economy is an example of internet-enabled innovation that increases quality and choice while decreasing costs. It has the potential to allow ordinary people to access the global market, which will play an important role in accelerating Japan’s initiative to promote the Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens.

Unfortunately, the Japanese government’s proposal to regulate home sharing platform operators is a retrograde step that will stifle innovation and economic growth in a country that is still lagging behind global technology leaders.

The current proposals, by imposing strict obligations on registered platform operators, could effectively bar platform operators who aim to run home sharing platforms in Japan and other countries. This would hinder innovation and significantly limit competition and consumer choice.

It’s a surprising step for the government considering the its previously public support for the sharing economy and the voluntary restraint of platform operators.

As currently written, these proposals could have grave effects on anyone in the community who relies on the benefits of internet-enabled home sharing platforms, like Airbnb and HomeAway, while reducing market access for local entrepreneurs looking to benefit from the sharing economy.

Home sharing has revolutionized the way people experience towns, cities, and local communities, creating enormous economic opportunities for local residents, businesses, and the broader tourism economy, which now accounts for 10 percent of GDP in most developed countries.

Governments around the world have introduced clear home-sharing rules that allow diverse individuals to share their homes and boost their income. We urge the Japanese Government to to strike the right regulatory balance, embrace technology, and allow innovation to thrive.

The Internet Association’s mission is to foster innovation, promote economic growth, and empower people through the free and open Internet. The Internet creates unprecedented benefits for society, and as the voice of the world’s leading Internet companies, we ensure stakeholders understand these benefits. The Internet Association represents the interests of more than 40 of the leading Internet companies.

February 13, 2017 | Article

IA Identifies Unbalanced Intellectual Property and Intermediary Liability Protections In Annual Comments To USTR

By Ari Giovenco, Director of Trade and International Policy

The internet is a major driver of U.S. economic strength and is changing the way we trade. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. small businesses rely on internet platforms to seamlessly connect with new customers both at home and abroad. From South Dakota to Singapore to Santiago, internet services connect U.S. businesses with buyers in other countries in ways that were impossible even a decade ago. In the past, massive capital and resources were needed to participate directly in global trade. But today, online tools are lowering entry barriers for small businesses – often at low or no cost. The impact of digital trade is now clearly measurable in U.S. trade statistics: in 2014, the internet economy ran an enormous $159 billion trade surplus in digitally-deliverable services.

U.S. success in digital trade depends on innovation-oriented laws and policies – including copyright intermediary liability protections, fair use, and other copyright limitations and exceptions. Unfortunately, the open internet policies we take for granted in the United States are not always the status quo around the world. Increasingly, other countries are seeking to impose internet-restrictive laws that would deviate from U.S. norms – in some cases making it hard for U.S. services to operate at all. The proliferation of unbalanced or inadequate intellectual property regimes and intermediary liability protections threaten U.S. market access in some of the largest markets in the world.  

Last week, IA submitted comments to the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office as part of its annual Special 301 review of foreign intellectual property laws. IA’s submission urged USTR to prioritize and engage on nearly 30 market access issues in over 40 countries. In order to adequately advance U.S. interests in intellectual property, IA believes USTR should not only highlight enforcement measures that may be necessary to deter illicit activity, but also address unbalanced systems of intellectual property and intermediary liability protection in other countries. Copyright limitations and exceptions – like fair use – are critical for the success of U.S. companies and users that rely on the internet to do business abroad.

While the Special 301 process gives the United States an important mechanism to address unbalanced copyright policies abroad, it is also important to promote balanced frameworks in ongoing and future trade negotiations. IA urge USTR to focus on promoting all key elements of the U.S. copyright system in upcoming trade negotiations.

February 6, 2017 | Article

Defeating Patent Trolls With Lead, Not Silver

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At the Internet Association, we understand there’s no silver bullet that will slay every patent troll. Honest American job creators need a veritable arsenal to fight them back. And one of these bullets in job creators’ battle against patent trolls is currently up for debate in the Supreme Court: venue. Although venue reform is not a silver bullet, we believe it marks a significant step on the path to curbing troll activity to the benefit not only of innovators, but to the U.S. economy as a whole. This is why the Internet Association filed an amicus brief in the TC Heartland case before the Supreme Court today.

If the Supreme Court does the right thing in the TC Heartland case, American businesses will be able to free up tens of millions of dollars to invest in jobs, research, and growth that patent trolls are directly or indirectly holding hostage right now.

At stake in TC Heartland is the notion that patent trolls can decide the specific judges and courts in which to sue companies for an alleged patent infringement – in effect, stacking the legal deck in their favor.

It will come as no surprise that, when given the opportunity, patent trolls will opt for the most favorable possible venue for their cases. These venues tend to be both far away – hundreds or thousands of miles – from the companies trolls are suing and conspicuously more likely to rule in favor of trolls. To illustrate, since 2014, a single judge in the Eastern District of Texas has handled one quarter of all patent cases nationwide and the patent holder wins 72 percent of all jury trials in that district. And these numbers are only getting bigger. In 2001, 29 percent of all patent cases were filed in only five of the 94 court districts. By 2016, 44 percent of all patent cases were filed in just two districts.

The result of this uneven, unfair legal environment is that patents trolls often force small businesses to take money and resources that otherwise would have gone to additional jobs or growth to settle patent troll cases. The average cost to settle a patent case hovers around $300,000 and the preliminary costs of even taking the case to trial stretch even higher. This leaves business owners – who face a seven in 10 chance of losing a jury trial in the Eastern District of Texas – with little choice. 

It’s much harder to invest in a new shop floor, or hire new employees when the threat of a spurious patent suit – that, at a minimum, will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (and possibly millions) – hangs over your head.
The scales of justice should not be tipped against productive businesses and job creators. From the brief: 

Forum shopping harms the legal system by creating inequities in which plaintiffs often can make an outcome-determinative choice by selecting venue, and by causing inefficiencies in which cases are litigated far from the location of the parties, the alleged infringement, and the evidence. Indeed, forum shopping in patent litigation adversely affects innovation, which is contrary to the constitutional purpose of the patent system, namely, to promote the progress of science and useful arts. Justice cannot be administered blindly and fairly if one of the parties can engage in forum shopping in order to gain an advantage. To restore justice in patent cases, the Court should resuscitate the patent venue statute by reaffirming that it says what it means and means what it says. 

To read the full brief, click here.

January 30, 2017 | Article

Bringing The US Copyright Office Into The 21st Century By Going Back To Its Roots

Everyone – policymakers in Washington included – agrees that we should aim to make government agencies more efficient, more technology friendly, and more effective for citizens. The U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) – a lesser known agency housed in the Library of Congress – is one such agency that is in real need of repair. The Office lacks the technical and structural capabilities necessary to fully embrace the digital era, despite being charged with administering parts of U.S. law responsible for the creative growth of our economy.

To fully understand the importance of the Copyright Office, and the policy related to its functionality and structure, we’ll need a quick history lesson. In the Constitution, our forefathers envisioned a vibrant copyright ecosystem, founded on the balancing of exclusive rights and access, which would serve the public interest and promote new creative works. Copyright in the United States, from its inception, has never been about a single interest group. Instead, it’s about maximizing benefits of the public, the ultimate constituency and beneficiary of law:

“Creative work is to be encouraged and rewarded, but private motivation must ultimately serve the cause of promoting broad public availability of literature, music, and the other arts… the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good.” Fogerty v. Fantasy

The nature of copyright law, therefore, drives the core mission of the Copyright Office: carry out its administrative and policy goals as best reflects the public interest in growing creativity, not serve a narrow subset of industries.

In other words, a successful USCO ought to be be driven by a commitment to transparency, accessibility, and accountability to all of the stakeholders that reflects the diversity of copyright. One industry should not be favored over another, politics must not impede policy, and extraneous issues should not hamper implementation of tailored solutions.

Today, the Internet Association filed two key comments on the future of the Copyright Office that reflect our commitment to a new era for the agency in which the USCO reflects the true spirit of the copyright ecosystem.

First, IA submitted a survey to the Librarian of Congress outlining the ideal qualities and attributes for the next Register, highlighting that the Register must be a proven manager, capable of organizational leadership and executing technical and structural enhancements across diverse functions.

Second, the IA filed a letter to the House Committee on the Judiciary commenting on the previously released outline of solutions to reform the USCO. In examining the changes proposed, we maintain that legislative solutions must be focused on identified deficiencies, and that targeted efforts focused on enhancing transparency, accountability, and accessibility will ultimately usher in a new era of success for the Copyright Office. In particular, we are encouraged by USCO’s creation of a public advisory board, which will provide the Copyright Office with feedback from a representative subset of copyright stakeholders on key matters. Additionally, we welcome the creation of a database tracking copyright ownership, an issue that will fuel better accessibility and fairness across the ecosystem when properly implemented.

USCO has an important role to play in shaping the future of creative content for American innovators and consumers. We look forward to working with all copyright stakeholders to build a stronger, future-ready Copyright Office.

January 17, 2017 | Article

Music Streaming Made 2016 A Blockbuster Year For Content Creators & Consumers. 2017 Will Be Even Better.

We’ll all remember 2016 for different (and numerous) reasons. While you reflect on all the ups, the downs, and the in-betweens, consider this: 2016 was the first year that streaming music overtook sales of individual songs or albums as the music industry’s dominant model, accounting for 51.3 percent of album consumption. That’s higher than physical or download listening combined.

A recent Billboard article sums up just how big of an impact streaming is having on growth in music:

Streaming led the U.S. music industry to its first back-to-back yearly growth this millennium and in the first half of 2016 was the single ­highest source of revenue in the U.S. recorded-music industry, ­bringing in $1.61 billion. All three major labels – Universal, Sony and Warner – posted streaming-driven double-digit percent boosts in earnings throughout the year. And subscriber growth overall has consistently increased ­during the past few years; in 2016, Spotify and Apple Music together added more than 20 million ­subscribers, ­boosting their ­numbers to 40 ­million and 20 ­million, respectively.”

Much is made of the debate between traditional music rights holders and digital platforms. But this recent news confirms that success of traditional content and contemporary internet models are intertwined; content and platforms will need to work together to fuel growth for both creators and innovators.

Sound familiar? That’s also a theme that our forefathers saw in the overall copyright system (which includes rules about how music is owned, licensed, and played): copyright law is meant to foster the arts for the public good. That means that the rules of the road defined by policymakers need to recognize that efficient, fair laws will ultimately benefit all stakeholders.

Part of what made 2016 such a blockbuster year for music streaming was the amount of choice we now have when listening to and creating music. At the touch of your fingertips, you can find and listen to music across genres and decades. There’s a more accessible and diverse musical culture than ever before. On the creator side, artists both famous and independent can easily reach global audiences thanks to lowered barriers to entry and growing participation in creative industries.

There’s no question that streaming services’ momentum in 2016 will carry into the future and continue to drive growth in music. Lawmakers on the Hill and in the administration should embrace the chance to make 2017, 2018, and beyond a record years as well. By ensuring more efficient legal structures, compulsory licenses, oversight of competitive rules like consent decrees, and pushing for transparency in ownership data, policymakers can embrace modern technology and consumer choices while building economic opportunities and jobs.

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Top Internet Business Leaders Confirmed To Speak At Internet Association’s Third Annual Virtuous Circle Summit BECKERMAN: “The value of the Virtuous Circle Summit is the conversations that take place when you bring together the leading voices in the internet innovation and policy space.” Washington, DC — Today, Internet Association announced its initial list of confirmed speakers Read more »

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