Re:Create Recap – June 15, 2017

Re:Create Coalition And Other Groups: NAFTA Renegotiations Should Include Fair Use. A balanced approach to U.S. copyright language remains as important as ever as the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) begins weighing changes to NAFTA. Public interest groups and tech organizations urged the U.S. Trade Representative to continue to preserve existing limitations and exceptions, including fair use and safe harbors. In comments filed to the USTR, the Re:Create Coalition stressed that “it is imperative that the agreement include strong provisions on limitations and exceptions to copyright, such as fair use. The economic implications of failing to include strong fair use protections are profound…” Re:Create also encouraged the USTR to “have a more inclusive and transparent process that brings all stakeholders to the table, including the public.”

New CCIA Study: Fair Use Industries Make Up One Sixth Of The Economy. Last week, the Computer & Communications Industry Association released a study on fair use finding that “value added by industries that depend on limitations and exceptions to copyright like the fair use doctrine tripled since 2002.” The study also found that in 2014 fair use industries accounted for 16 percent of the economy, employed 1 in 8 workers and contributed $2.8 trillion to the GDP. Fair use industries are a core part of the U.S. economy. For example, fair use allows for comedy programs like “South Park” and “The Daily Show” to regularly utilize copyrighted works “in legitimate ways for legitimate purposes.” The study warned that “restrictions on fair use in the United States and unbalanced copyright policies abroad can endanger U.S. jobs, and economic growth and innovation.”

Re:Create At VidCon. Next week, Re:Create Executive Director Joshua Lamel and Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Corynne McSherry will participate on the VidCon panel “Your Rights as a Digital Creator”, which will explore how copyright policies, such as the DMCA and fair use, affect creators and protect their work. The panel, presented by the Internet Creators Guild, will be moderated by Burnie Burns of Rooster Teeth and will take place at 12:30pm on Thursday, June 22.

Could Computer Software Keep You In Jail? From ballistic information databases to software programs that analyze fingerprints and DNA, the criminal justice system has witnessed a significant increase in automation and technical advancement in recent years. The problem? Legal Aid Society fellow Rebecca Wexler noted in a June 13 New York Times op-ed: “The developers tend to view their technologies as trade secrets. As a result, they often refuse to disclose details about how their tools work, even to criminal defendants and their attorneys, even under a protective order, even in the controlled context of a criminal proceeding or parole hearing.” Multiple criminal court cases have recently hinged on investigations into how forensic software works, preventing defense attorneys from fully challenging the evidence used. If courts continue to protect these companies as trade secrets, Wexler called for legislators to look into “[passing] laws limiting trade-secret safeguards in criminal proceedings to a protective order and nothing more.”

Kickstarted Star Trek and Dr. Seuss Mashup Protected By Fair Use. This week, U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino dismissed a lawsuit the Dr. Seuss estate filed against Comicmix’s Star Trek and Dr. Seuss mashup, “Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go,” after determining that the work is “highly transformative” and is therefore protected by fair use. As reported by Boing Boing, Judge Sammartino expects this case to set an important precedent, writing: “This case presents an important question regarding the emerging ‘mash-up’ culture where artists combine two independent works in a new and unique way… However, if fair use was not viable in a case such as this, an entire body of highly creative work would be effectively foreclosed.”

Correcting The Record: Register Of Copyrights Bill Will Not Modernize Copyright Office. R Street Institute’s Sasha Moss re-articulated her position on the Register of Copyrights bill in a June 13 blog post, explaining “changing who appoints the register shouldn’t be conflated with separation or modernization.” Moss argued that the political motivations of the bill will ultimately not support the much-needed modernization efforts at the Copyright Office. She wrote, “Regardless of how strong you think our nation’s copyright laws ought to be, you should be in favor of making the system’s core functions work better. This bill will do little, if anything, to advance that goal.”