© is the copyright symbol in a copyright notice

© copyright symbol | Wikipedia

Regular readers will know we’ve been following the congressional review of U.S. copyright law with great interest this year. Although there’s a lot to take in, and powerful stakeholders from both the creative and technology industries involved,  it has been encouraging to watch the dialogue unfold.

Against the backdrop of recent hatchet burying between Google and Viacom, there is also reason to hope that all parties can align to create meaningful changes to copyright law that better serves everyone. All of which makes it all the more disappointing to see a political voice from Silicon Valley effectively denounce the review as ineffective.

That’s right, before the Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)-led review has been given time to gain momentum, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) has spoken out to label the effort “nerdy.” She goes on to state, “I don’t see it going very far.”

English: Zoe Lofgren, member of the United Sta...

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) | Image Credit: Wikipedia)

Without wishing to stereotype further, part of the problem that both tech and copyright advocates have had while vying with each other in recent years has been just that, stereotypes.

Content creators – and those that support them – are painted as old school Hollywood types, unwilling to bend to new business and distribution models, while technology companies are tarred with the “nerd” brush, programming web platforms without thought to the wider consequences on creative rights.

By propping up this outdated image, Rep. Lofgren only serves to set back the drive towards a meaningful and collaborative update to copyright  law.

Despite fragments of reality in both stereotypes, the signs of thawing relationships and progress on both sides are clear. Hollywood has been embracing ever-more adventurous routes to market, from digital video-on-demand to subscription-based streaming services. Traditional elements of entertainment distribution remain, of course. But this is a multi-billion dollar industry whose consumers (at least some of them) transition more slowly than the rapidly evolving tech sector. Progress is being made, but should not be expected overnight.

On the technology side, companies like Google have started to acknowledge their responsibilities to protect intellectual property by penalizing sites like The Pirate Bay and policing copyright on YouTube with systems like Content ID. While there’s still a long way to go, not to mention some notable exceptions to protecting content on legitimate channels, things are beginning to change. When major players begin to acknowledge the position of those they formerly fought with, it’s a sure sign of progress.

Hopefully Rep. Lofgren will take note of this movement and work to make U.S. copyright law more effective, abandoning the outdated industry stereotypes that have marred such progress in the past.

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