Tech Execs Visit Capitol Hill to Talk Copyrights

by Ostatic Staff - Aug. 02, 2013

Yesterday, a group of technology executives visited the U.S. House Judiciary Committee to discuss technology innovation and copyrights. The lengthy meeting produced some minutes that include interesting arguments. In particular, it's worth reading a PDF record of comments from Rackspace Vice President of Intellectual Property Van Lindberg. Van Lindberg argued that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is widely misused and lamented the actions of patent trolls. 

 Van Lindberg said "patent trolls are a massive problem for our industry." He also noted:

"[Takedown] requests are most frequently couched as requests under the DMCA. These requests are not really meant to stop copyright infringement. They are attempts to restrict free speech that someone doesn't like."

Rackspace, with its involvement in the cloud receives many takedown requests related to content, so Van Lindberg knows what he's talking about.

SparkFun Electronics CEO Nathan Seidle told the House panel that patent trolls "keep him up at night." And, many of the executives at the gathering noted that the huge costs of defending against patent trolls are a drain on technology companies. 

The fact is, the DMCA and other attempts to protect copyrights are in need of updates. GigaOM has some interesting statistics gathered on how often companies comply with DMCA takedown requests, noting the following: "According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Google claimed in April 2012 that it complies with about 97 percent of takedown requests."

All of this is why it's worth watching two proposed U.S. bills right now. As The Hillicon Valley blog reports:

"Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) promised to introduce a bill this week that will lasso in the federal courts system and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as well improve upon the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act that went into effect earlier this year."

"Last week, Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.) introduced the STOP Act, which would ask the USPTO to re-examine patent litigation related to financial services. The White House also announced a series of executive orders on patent troll litigation back in June."

 OStatic will follow up on the status of these bills. In the meantime, it's very much worth reading Van Lindberg's statement, which delves into not only copyrights, but the value of open source technologies.