Get to Know Our Members: Center For Democracy and Technology

Re:Create has launched a blog series, Get to Know Our Members, to help others better understand the different ways Re:Create members work to support balanced copyright laws and why they are so motivated by copyright issues. For this post, we heard from Stan Adams, deputy general counsel & open internet counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT).

1: What is your organization’s mission?
CDT works to strengthen individual rights and freedoms by defining, promoting, and influencing technology policy and the architecture of the internet that impacts our daily lives. We work to: Preserve the unique nature of the internet, limit government surveillance, enhance freedom of expression globally, define the boundaries of technology in our daily lives and protect our fundamental right to privacy

2: What types of people/organizations/businesses do you represent?
CDT represents the public interest. 

3: Why are balanced copyright policies so important to your organization?
Granting exclusive rights to creators is only half of the formula used to encourage the creation of new works; equally important are limits on the scope of those rights so that existing works may be repurposed, remixed, and reimagined into new works. An open internet offers creators a global marketplace in which to market their creations and a vast world of material to be reimagined. CDT believes that balancing rights to control, access, and use existing works is key to preserving the internet as both a vibrant and collaborative creative environment and as an efficient platform for distributing creative works.

4: What role does the DMCA play in supporting the work of your stakeholders?
The DMCA’s liability shield for intermediaries is a fundamental element of an open internet because it allows websites to host user-uploaded content without fear of crippling copyright lawsuits. Without this protection, websites would not offer users the option of sharing their creations and expressions with the world, undermining one of the internet’s core values.

5: What concerns you most about proposals to make the DMCA more restrictive?
Making the DMCA more restrictive, such as by forcing intermediaries to actively monitor user uploads and act as police on behalf of rightsholders, would push websites that host any content submitted by users toward overly restrictive content policies and would hurt users’ ability to create and share their works. This kind of reform would damage people’s ability to make fair uses of copyrighted works, negatively impacting the creation of new works. Heightened liability for platforms could even reduce the number of places where people can share their works, closing off important outlets for expression and minimizing the roles of internet users as contributors to the public dialogue.

6: What key fact or stat about will help readers better understand how important balanced copyright policies are to American creativity, innovation and economic growth?
The largest, most popular, and most successful parts of the web would not be what they are without balanced policies. Google Search is built on fair use. Facebook depends on the DMCA’s safe harbor. Amazon’s Marketplace relies on the first sale doctrine. Netflix may have never come to be without fair use, and much of its content certainly depends on it. The web itself would not be what it is today without these limitations and exceptions.