Threats to Copyright Protections Seen As “Existential”

Threats to Copyright Protections Seen As “Existential”

Copyright protection and the many ways it is perceived to be under threat were a recurring there to proceedings at the Association of American Publishers annual Professional and Scholarly Publishing conference Feb. 7.

Copyright industries, which include book and journal publishing, music, film and entertainment software contributed $1.3 trillion, or about 7%, to the U.S. economy in 2017. It is estimated these industries employ 5.5 million people in the U.S.

Maria A. Pallante, AAP President and CEO, said these industries face an “existential threat to the legal framework on which publishing depends.” She listed expansions of the fair use doctrine, willful piracy, platform and search engine monopolies, censorship and misinformation, and coordinated digital copying as examples of the type of threats publishers face.

Many individual nations and trade groups around the world are examining their copyright laws, so the issues are constantly being debated and negotiated.

“On the copyright side, challenges really include attempts to broaden exceptions and limitations and to copyright protection,” said Lui Simpson, AAP vice president of global policy, who noted that the lack of an effective framework to deal with online piracy continues to be a challenge internationally.

“U.S. copyright laws have incentivized the publishing industry to make investments in content and tools, because they know the content will be protected,” said U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) who was on hand to discuss efforts to modernize the copyright office.

While copyright laws and treaties around the world need updating to catch up with the internet and new business models, a whole new generation of technology is set to explode, and those technologies need to have copyright laws that strike the right balance as well.

Jule Sigall, associate general counsel, IP policy and strategy, Microsoft Corp., advocated for copyright laws that will allow the use of copyrighted material as data in a machine learning or artificial intelligence environment.

“It should not be, which I think some people suggest, simply a matter of whether you are copying or not. Because I think at the end of the day, we all know that if computers were to process information you have to make a copy,” said Sigall. “We think that the line to be drawn… is one that is actually already drawn in most copyright laws around the world… is the line between an idea and an expression.”

Such laws would allow AI or machine reading to pull out the unprotected ideas facts, concepts and embodiments in an image or a work without infringement so that the data can be used to power some other capability.

Simba Information will continue to cover issues of copyright and emerging technology in its upcoming reports Global Scientific & Technical Publishing 2019-2023, Global Medical Publishing 2019-2023 and STM Online Services 2019-2023.