Copyright and internet policy

The USPTO advises the Executive Branch and provides advice, training, and capacity-building on select copyright and internet policy issues, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), first sale doctrine, remixes, and facilitating development of the online marketplace. 

Internet Policy Task Force

The U.S. Department of Commerce established the Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) in 2010 to identify leading public policy and operational issues impacting the U.S. private sector's ability to realize the potential for economic growth and job creation through the internet. Leveraging the expertise of five Department of Commerce bureaus—the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the International Trade Administration (ITA)—it conducted a comprehensive review of the nexus between privacy policy, copyright, the global free flow of information, cybersecurity, and innovation in the internet economy. The Task Force’s copyright-focused activities continued until 2020.

IPTF copyright activities

The USPTO and NTIA worked together to review the relationship between the availability and protection of online copyrighted works and innovation in the internet economy. In July 2013, the Task Force issued a Green Paper, Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy. The Green Paper identified five copyright policy issues as critical to economic growth, job creation, and cultural development, and subsequently developed workstreams for each of them. In December 2013, the Task Force held a public meeting following a request for public comments on these topics:

  • The legal framework for the creation of remixes
  • The relevance and scope of the first sale doctrine in the digital environment
  • The appropriate calibration of statutory damages, in the contexts of individual file sharers and of secondary liability for large-scale online infringement
  • Improving the operation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) notice and takedown system
  • How the government can facilitate the further development of a robust online licensing environment

Remixes, first sale, and statutory damages

On the first three issues identified in the Green Paper—remixes, first sale, and statutory damages—the Department of Commerce hosted four roundtables. In January 2016, the IPTF published its conclusions and recommendations in its White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory Damages. A separate Public Meeting on Consumer Messaging in Connection with Online Transactions Involving Copyrighted Works was convened in April 2017. Its focus was on the IPTF’s finding (as detailed in the White Paper) that when consumers download copies of works—such as ebooks, music, and motion pictures—they do not appear to have a clear understanding of what they can legally do with those copies.

Multistakeholder Forum on the DMCA notice and takedown system

On the issue of improving the operation of the DMCA's notice and takedown system, the IPTF established a Multistakeholder Forum for consensus-building among stakeholders. Its goal was to identify best practices and produce voluntary agreements for improving the operation of the DMCA’s notice and takedown system without the need for legislative changes.

The Multistakeholder Forum kicked off in March 2014, with a broad range of stakeholders participating, including right holders and individual creators, service providers of different sizes, and consumer and public interest representatives. Follow-up meetings took place through the end of 2014, and a final document, "DMCA Notice-and-Takedown Processes: List of Good, Bad, and Situational Practices," was released in April 2015.

Developing the digital marketplace

The Task Force hosted a public meeting on April 1, 2015 to explore whether and how the government can facilitate the further development of the online licensing environment for copyrighted works, focusing specifically on the development and use of standard identifiers for all types of works of authorship, the interoperability among databases and systems used to identify owners of rights and terms of use, and a possible portal for linking to such databases and to licensing platforms.

In response to feedback from the April 2015 meeting that the government can play a useful role by facilitating dialogues between and among industry sectors and by convening stakeholder groups to make recommendations on specific issues, the Task Force then developed stakeholder-facilitated meetings in December 2016, January 2018, and March 2019 to facilitate constructive, cross-industry dialogue among stakeholders about ways to promote a more robust and collaborative digital marketplace for copyrighted works. These public meetings focused specifically on initiatives that relate to standards development, interoperability across digital registries, and cross-industry collaboration. The goal of the meetings was to provide a platform for discussion in order to understand the current state of affairs, identify challenges, discuss paths forward, and determine in what ways government can be of further assistance.

IPTF documents


More information about IPTF activities can also be found on NTIA’s website. For additional information related to copyright and internet policy, contact the USPTO’s Copyright Team