Commentary

Publishers Lobby Trump About Silicon Valley

Earlier this month, the newspaper industry took a long-standing feud with Google to President-elect Donald Trump. Next, the music industry followed suit.

Now, the American Association of Publishers, which famously sued Google over its book digitization project, is complaining to the incoming president about Silicon Valley. Specifically, the publishers argue that the tech companies aren't doing enough to stop online piracy.

"Innocently or not, the ease of discovery, access and distribution increasingly associated with the unauthorized presence of many copyrighted works on the Internet promotes conduct reflecting a mistaken view that their mere availability online justifies acquisition and use of such works," the publishers write in a letter to Trump.

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"The problem is exacerbated by the conduct and rhetoric of some in the Internet-based services and consumer technology manufacturing communities, as well as in the library, education and archival communities, who share a common self-interest in continued advocacy to minimize the effectiveness of copyright protection and enforcement."

The publishers went on to criticize the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which generally immunizes Internet platforms from liability for users' piracy, provided  Web companies take down copyrighted material upon an owner's request.

According to the publishers, the DMCA isn't protecting content owners, due to the "unanticipated appearance of service provider business models that foster, exploit and profit from online infringement by their users while offering only token compliance with the law."

The publishers' group also accuses judges of incorrectly applying the DMCA. The publishers don't state which cases they're referring to, or why the organization believes the judges wrongly interpreted the law.

The Authors Guild, which also sued Google for scanning books and making them searchable, said this week that it also plans to lobby Trump. The organization noted Trump's recent meeting with tech companies, adding that the incoming president "struck a conciliatory tone with companies that have been willfully ignorant of, if not openly hostile to, the interests of creators."

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