IFTA urges stronger online copyright protection

Global trade association the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) has urged the US Department of Commerce and other government agencies to take concerted action to enhance effective online copyright protections. It contends that online piracy has put at risk future production by harming independents’ ability to recoup minimum guarantees.

IFTA submitted the comments in response to a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) issued by the Department of Commerce (DOC), the US Patent and Trademark Office and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Internet Economy. It applauded the DOC for issuing the NOI to gather more information from stakeholders in order to effectually address major barriers to innovation in a digital environment.

“The policy and technological solutions that emerge from this proceeding should assist in establishing a transparent framework that takes into account advances in technology and the need for protection of copyright to encourage further innovation,” said IFTA President-CEO Jean Prewitt. “We believe solutions are achievable through government leadership and cooperation among all stakeholders and are necessary to ensure that investment in independent content can be recouped and new online distribution models developed.”

In outlining independent film financing and distribution models, the Los Angeles-based body cited the impact that online piracy has on independents’ ability to recoup investment in production and continue to create future films. Noting that effective online copyright protections can only be provided through concerted governmental action, the Alliance recommended that government act as convener of interested stakeholders, exercising oversight in establishing mechanisms to protect copyright and innovation in a digital environment.

The comments seek to ensure that all stakeholders are actively included and involved in “industry at large” discussions and solutions, with the government determining ways that will simplify and encourage cooperation among stakeholders to combat repeat infringers. While voluntary initiatives by service providers are welcome, IFTA suggested that they must be transparent and accessible by all rights holders.

Additionally, IFTA urged adoption of international standards such as those contained in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Act, which will provide a worldwide framework for vigorous enforcement against those who illegally profit from or otherwise cause damage to investment in intellectual property.

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