ACRL, ALA, ARL, and Others Respond to U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator's Request

ACRL, ALA, ARL, and other organizations have responded to the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator's "Coordination and Strategic Planning of the Federal Effort against Intellectual Property Infringement: Request of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator for Public Comments Regarding the Joint Strategic Plan."

Here's an excerpt from the ALA, ACRL, and ARL letter:

ARL, ALA, and ACRL believe it is very important that the IPEC has asked that assertions about the costs of intellectual property infringement clearly identify the methodology used and any critical assumptions relied upon to calculate those costs, as well as a copy or citation to the source of any data. As the comments of CCIA and the NetCoalition make clear, industry-commissioned studies rarely, if ever, rise to a level of rigor that justifies emergency intervention along the lines that content industries routinely demand. Rather, they are shot through with fallacies and sleights of hand that have done more to confuse and confound this discussion than to contribute to it. We refer you to the comments of CCIA and the NetCoalition for a detailed discussion of the problems with these studies and the arguments that are made in connection with them.

The fundamental flaw of these studies is that they beg the question of whether a particular private business interest is entitled to government protection for perpetual, stable profits regardless of changing business conditions. The mere fact of declining profits in one business model does not constitute a cognizable harm that government must step in to remedy. Government intervention in any area has costs for taxpayers, and in this area there are added costs to the public when IP policy becomes further slanted in favor of rightsholders and against public access and use.

Here's an excerpt from the American Association of Law Libraries, EFF, Medical Library Association, Public Knowledge, Special Libraries Association, and U.S. PRIG letter:

Thus, when determining enforcement priorities, the government should be guided by three principles. First, it should only seek to prevent private economic harms when the costs of enforcement do not exceed the harm caused. Second, it should pursue harms that meet the standards for criminal conduct. When society marks certain conduct as criminal, it authorizes public enforcement, recognizes that deterrent (as opposed to merely remedial) actions are more appropriate, and allows that in an individual case the cost of punishing the violation may outweigh the economic harm of the violation itself because of the moral wrong committed. Third, publicly funded enforcement resources should be reserved for clear violations of the law, rather than in "gray areas" characterized by uncertain and evolving legal or marketplace norms. The government should spend public funds on enforcement only when all three of these principles are met.

Read more about it at "ALA Calls for Openness in Copyright Negotiations and Enforcement Efforts," "Groups Ask Targeted Enforcement for Intellectual Property," and "Public Interest Groups Call on IP Czar to Get the Priorities Straight."