White House Opens IP Enforcement Policy Discussion to the Public

Victoria Espinel, the United States Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, issued a blog post Monday on the official White House web site inviting public opinion on future IP enforcement policy.

Espinel, who has served in her position since late 2009, remarked the following on this new Federal Register Notice.

I believe that essential to the development of an effective enforcement strategy, is ensuring that any approaches that are considered to be particularly effective as well as any concerns with the present approach to intellectual property enforcement are understood by policymakers. Recommendations may include, but need not be limited to: legislation, regulation, guidance, executive order, Presidential memoranda, or other executive action, including, but not limited to, changes to agency policies, practices or methods.

Recommendations can be submitted here. The deadline for submission is July 25.

Analysis: Legislating IP protection in the Internet age has proven difficult for Congress as of late. The infamous SOPA/PIPA and CISPA bills have all underscored Congress’s difficulty in finding an adequate solution, mostly because of the complexity involved in trying to fit IP protection and enforcement into the open waters of the Internet.

With this new FRN, Espinel is basically admitting that the government is running into a wall with trying to find new and adequate ideas for IP enforcement that isn’t going to get the public as riled up as they were about SOPA/PIPA. In my opinion, such honesty is a good move and it opens the door to many more market-savvy groups that can provide ideas for Internet-friendly IP regulation policy.

So how does this affect the gamer? For one, it’s less likely now that Congress is going to try and pass another bill that will inadvertantly kill live streaming or e-sports broadcasting; and for two, it’s more likely that YouTube and other Internet web sites will remain untouched in how they interact with video games. In other words, with this new FRN, there is less of a chance that the government will kill gaming-related Internet services and communities.

Of course, one should still take it all in with a grain of salt. The submission document at the Regulations web site only specifically mentions the Internet once, and it’s in a way that talks about how to better stop illegal goods shipping done via the Internet. This means that any submissions will have to voluntarily include Internet-friendly wording and that the government isn’t explicitly looking for Internet-friendly policy. So it is, in fact, possible that this FRN will just result in more shoddy, technology-ignorant legislation.

At the end of the day, though, when the government involves the people directly in policy, it’s more likely to find a solution that appeases the public. That’s a good thing, considering the kinds of IP enforcement laws that Congress has been trying to pass lately.

Connor Horn

About Connor Horn

Connor is a laid-back long-haired California hipster who listens to music "you'll never find on the radio" and who voted for Ron Paul to "make a difference." His favorite kind of games are MOBAs and rogue-likes, and he is a huge fan of PC gaming and the future of digital distribution.