[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 53 (Tuesday, March 21, 2017)]
[Pages 14505-14506]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-05511]



 Patent and Trademark Office

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

[Docket No.: PTO-P-2017-0003]

Public Meeting on Consumer Messaging in Connection With Online 
Transactions Involving Copyrighted Works

AGENCY: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Department of 
Commerce; National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 
Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Notice of public meeting.


SUMMARY: The Department of Commerce's Internet Policy Task Force (Task 
Force) will host a public meeting at the United States Patent and 
Trademark Office (USPTO) facility in Alexandria, Virginia, on April 18, 
2017, to discuss how best to communicate to consumers regarding license 
terms and restrictions in connection with online transactions involving 
copyrighted works. This follows up on one of the recommendations that 
the Task Force presented in its January 2016 White Paper on Remixes, 
First Sale, and Statutory Damages.

DATES: The public meeting will be held on April 18, 2017, from 1:00 
p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. Registration will begin at 
12:30 p.m.

ADDRESSES: The public meeting will be held at the United States Patent 
and Trademark Office, Global Intellectual Property Academy (GIPA), 
Madison Building (East), Second Floor, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, 
VA 22314. All major entrances to the building are accessible to people 
with disabilities.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information regarding the 
meeting, contact Nadine Herbert or Linda Quigley, Office of Policy and 
International Affairs, United States Patent and Trademark Office, 
Madison Building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; telephone 
(571) 272-9300; email [email protected] or 
[email protected]. Please direct all media inquiries to the 
Office of the Chief Communications Officer, USPTO, at (571) 272-8400.



A. Ongoing Government Engagement Relating to Copyright in the Digital 

    The Department of Commerce established the Internet Policy Task 
Force (Task Force) 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. The Task Force has released two reports addressing copyright 
issues and the Internet, based on extensive stakeholder consultation 
and public input.
    The Task Force's July 2013 report, Copyright Policy, Creativity, 
and Innovation in the Digital Economy (Green Paper),\1\ was a 
comprehensive overview of copyright policy in the digital environment. 
In October 2013, the USPTO and NTIA published a request for public 
comments \2\ relating to three areas of work flowing out of the Green 
Paper, including: (1) The legal framework for the creation of remixes; 
\3\ (2) the relevance and scope of the first sale doctrine in the 
digital environment; \4\ and (3) the appropriate calibration of 
statutory damages in the contexts of individual file-sharers and 
secondary liability for mass online services.\5\ Following the release 
of the Green Paper, stakeholders provided input on these policy issues 
through two rounds of written comments, a public meeting, and four 
roundtables held around the country.\6\

    \1\ The Green Paper is available at http://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/news/publications/copyrightgreenpaper.pdf.
    \2\ Request for Comments on Department of Commerce Green Paper, 
Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy, 
78 FR 61337-61341, available at https://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/ntia_pto_rfc_10032013.pdf.
    \3\ For a definition of remixes, please see the Green Paper, fn. 
1 above, at p.28.
    \4\ For information about the first sale doctrine, please see 
the Green Paper, id. at p.35.
    \5\ For information about statutory damages, please see the 
Green Paper, id. at p.51.
    \6\ More information can be found at https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/ip-policy/copyright/white-paper-remixes-first-sale-and-statutory-damages.

    In its 2016 White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory 
Damages \7\ (White Paper), the Task Force addressed these three issues. 
As to the first sale doctrine, based on a weighing of benefits and 
risks, the Task Force determined that amending the law to extend the 
doctrine to digital transmissions of copyrighted works was not 
advisable at the time.

    \7\ The White Paper is available at http://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/copyrightwhitepaper.pdf.

    However, the Task Force did recommend non-legislative action to 
address certain concerns expressed by a number of stakeholders about 
the online marketplace for copyrighted works. These related to 
consumers' understanding of what they have purchased when they pay for 
copies of works delivered online.\8\ The Task Force concluded that 
consumers would benefit from more information on the nature of these 
transactions, including whether they are paying for temporary access to 
content or for ownership of a copy, in order to instill greater 
confidence and enhance participation in the online marketplace.\9\ The 
Task Force therefore recommended the creation of a multistakeholder 
process to establish best practices to improve consumers' understanding 
of license terms and restrictions in connection with online 
transactions involving creative works.

    \8\ White Paper, pp. 55-58.
    \9\ White Paper, p. 68.

B. The Proposed Focus of This Meeting

    In the White Paper, the Task Force concluded 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. This is due in part to the length and 
opacity of most End User License Agreements (EULAs).\10\

    \10\ For purposes of this discussion, a EULA is a contract 
between a licensor and purchaser, establishing the scope of the 
purchaser's rights to use an acquired download of copyrighted 
content. EULAs are often available only in digital form, presented 
as a click-through where the user is required to accept or reject 
the terms.

    Other factors that may contribute to consumer confusion include the 
labeling of the ``buy'' button, and the lack of clear and conspicuous 
information regarding the ownership status of copies obtained by means 
of digital transmissions. Commenters noted that it is common for online

[[Page 14506]]

services to feature a ``buy'' button that a consumer must click on in 
order to obtain digital content, and they offered differing views as to 
what consumers believe they have obtained when they click on such a 
    The goal of this meeting is to explore issues and facilitate a 
discussion on how best to ensure that license terms related to 
copyright are clearly and effectively communicated to potential 
consumers in the online environment. We will not address whether the 
first sale doctrine should be applicable to digital transmissions, 
which the White Paper discussed at length (see Background Section 
above), or what license terms should or should not be imposed, but will 
focus on non-legislative solutions, which may include voluntary best 
    One discussion topic will focus on what copyright-related terms and 
conditions are important to communicate to consumers in the online 
environment. Some examples of possible terms include: Ownership (i.e., 
whether ownership is transferred); use restrictions (e.g., restrictions 
for noncommercial purposes; geographical limitations; limits to a 
certain number of viewings or devices); and/or transfer conditions 
(e.g., restrictions on resale or other distribution).
    Another discussion topic will focus on identifying best practices 
for how to inform consumers about the intellectual property rights 
associated with the content they are accessing or acquiring, and what 
activities they are permitted to engage in without implicating those 
rights. Questions to be addressed may include:

     What term or terms can clearly communicate what consumers 
are paying for?
     What term or terms should not be used (e.g., ``buy,'' 
``own,'' or ``purchase'') in a digital transaction that is not a sale?
     Would a standardized form of notice, placed in or accessed 
from a conspicuous location on an e-commerce Web site or app be 
     Would standard icons or symbols be helpful in 
communicating the terms, and what might those look like?
     Are there consumer messaging models from other fields 
(e.g., in the consumer privacy context) that can provide useful lessons 
or examples in this area?

Finally, participants should be prepared to discuss whether additional 
work should be done to identify best practices in this area, and if so, 
in what forum and how.

Public Meeting

    On April 18, 2017, the Task Force will hold a public meeting to 
hear views on these issues, including on the process going forward. We 
seek participation and comment from interested stakeholders, including 
in particular online services that offer digital transmissions of works 
to consumers, as well as creators, right holders, consumers, marketing 
professionals, user interface designers, public interest groups, and 
    The agenda for the public meeting will be available no later than 
the week prior to the meeting, and the meeting will be webcast and 
transcribed. The agenda and webcast information will be available on 
the Internet Policy Task Force Web site, http://www.ntia.doc.gov/internetpolicytaskforce, and the USPTO's Web site, https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/ip-policy/copyright/internet-policy-task-force.
    The meeting will be open to members of the public to attend, space 
permitting, on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration is 
required and will be available on site on the day of the meeting, space 
permitting. Persons who have pre-registered (and received confirmation) 
will have seating held until 15 minutes before the program begins. Pre-
registration for the meeting is available at: http://www.cvent.com/d/fvqhvj/4W.
    The meeting will be physically accessible to people with 
disabilities. Individuals requiring accommodation, such as sign 
language interpretation, real-time captioning of the webcast or other 
ancillary aids, should communicate their needs to Nadine Herbert, 
Office of Policy and International Affairs, United States Patent and 
Trademark Office, Madison Building, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 
22314; telephone (571) 272-9300, at least seven (7) business days prior 
to the meeting. Attendees should arrive at least one-half hour prior to 
the start of the meeting, and must present valid government-issued 
photo identification upon arrival. Members of the public will have an 
opportunity to make comments at the meeting.

    Dated: March 16, 2017.
Michelle K. Lee,
Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of 
the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Kathy D. Smith,
Chief Counsel, National Telecommunications and Information 
[FR Doc. 2017-05511 Filed 3-20-17; 8:45 am]