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The Internet Blueprint | Developing bills to build a better internet The Internet Blueprint | Developing Bills to Build a Better Internet

Copyright currently grants a personal monopoly for the extraordinarily long term of the entire life of the creator plus 70 years (or 95 years if the creator was an employee). These lengthy terms prevent people from building on our common culture. This bill proposes shortening copyright terms to life of the author plus 50 years, or a flat 50 years if the author was an employee.

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Not every unauthorized use of a copyrighted work is an unlawful use. The “fair use” rights of the public to criticize, parody, share, etc., are part of the legal bargain copyright holders make when they get an exclusive monopoly to copy their works.

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Copyright law grants creators a number of rights and powers. Unfortunately sometimes these are abused. For example, this abuse can take the form of suppressing speech that an author disagrees with, even if that speech doesn’t infringe his copyright. Additionally, copyright owners can stifle free speech by claiming rights and powers they do not have.

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Right now, breaking the digital lock on a piece of copyrighted content for many uses—even if the use itself is lawful—is illegal. That means that if you wanted to use a clip from a movie in order to criticize it, taking the clip itself is legal, but breaking the DRM on the DVD in order to do so is not.

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The intellectual property (IP) chapters in secretive trade agreements are used to pressure other countries to adopt more stringent protections and enforcement. There is no justification for such secrecy. To make matters worse, industry has a seat at the table while the public is excluded.

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When it comes to takedown notices, it often seems like alleged infringers are assumed guilty until proven innocent. The process that allows content owners to remove allegedly infringing content from websites is far too often abused. Even in cases where there is no infringement, the content is usually removed immediately, taken down for a minimum of 10 days, and is sometimes never replaced. This is particularly worrisome in politically significant or time-sensitive cases where the cost of a faulty or malicious takedown might outweigh the benefit of keeping the content offline for a week and a half.

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