U.S. Copyright Czar Applauds Six-Strikes, Warns Over 3D Printing Piracy

U.S. Copyright Czar Victoria Espinel released her strategic plan on intellectual property enforcement today. In her report Espinel applauds voluntary anti-piracy agreements in the private sector and cites the six-strikes copyright alert system as a prime example. At the same time, the Copyright Czar also highlights several threats that warrant increased attention in the future, including 3D printing piracy.

pirate-bay-3dProtecting the rights of the entertainment industries and other content producers is one of the key issues for the Obama administration.

To oversee this challenge the President appointed Victoria Espinel as Copyright Czar and today she released the 2013 strategic plan on intellectual property enforcement.

The report begins with a summary of all advances made since the first plan was issued three years ago. Among other things it mentions the Megaupload raid and the ‘Operation in Our Sites’ domain name seizures as recent accomplishments.

However, the Copyright Czar also stresses that progress can be made without ongoing government intervention. The administration therefore actively encourages voluntary initiatives by the private sector, and the six-strikes anti-piracy scheme is held up as a prime example.

The initiative is a collaboration between the MPAA, RIAA and five major Internet providers, who founded the Center for Copyright Information (CCI). The alert system launched in February and since then thousands of subscribers have received warnings that their Internet connections have been used to share copyrighted material.

“At the Center for Copyright Information we are pleased that the Copyright Alert System was highlighted as an important example of voluntary efforts in the private sector to protect intellectual property,” commented CCI’s executive director Jill Lesser. “We look forward to working with the Administration on this important issue.”

In addition to the six-strikes system the report also mentions other voluntary anti-piracy agreements in other sectors, including advertisers, credit card companies and domain registrars. All these collaborations are aimed at reducing online piracy and counterfeiting.

Looking ahead, the Copyright Czar also highlights new technologies that will warrant attention in the future.

“As we move forward, we are aware that new technologies, evolving social norms, new business models, and novel global distribution mechanisms will present new challenges and opportunities to combat infringement of American intellectual property rights.

“Among these trends and innovations are increases in the power and prevalence of cloud computing, mobile computing, data storage, database management, information security, increased interoperability, and 3D printing.”

Espinel mentions the increase in use of mobile devices, which has its positive sides, but also introduces the problem of infringing apps. She notes that every new innovation has both up and downsides, and as expected 3D printing is no exception.

“Whether it is the hobbyist in the garage coming up with a prototype for a new gadget to make our lives easier or the scientist producing life-saving medical devices, 3D printing brings with it a new set of opportunities for rapid and efficient trade, innovation, and creativity,” the report reads.

“And, just as 3D printing offers the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to our society, there also exists the opportunity for individuals who look to exploit others’ hard work to abuse this technology by trading in counterfeit and pirated goods, of which we must be cognizant and diligent in our efforts to prevent.”

While the Obama administration is aware of the enforcement challenges 3D printing presents, there is no mention of any specific intervention to target this threat. We can, however, expect it to become a more prominent issue in the years to come.

In the near future the U.S. will mostly continue down the same path. This means protecting rightsholders both offline and on, through domestic action, international partnerships and voluntary agreements in the private sector.

“Moving forward, the Administration will continue to improve upon these efforts. We will focus on infringement that has a significant impact on the economy, the global economic competitiveness of the United States, the security of our Nation, and the health and safety of the American public,” Espinel concludes.

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