[A2k] The Register's Call for Updates to U.S. Copyright Law (hearing today at 3:30 2141 Rayburn)

Manon Ress manon.ress at keionline.org
Wed Mar 20 10:10:48 PDT 2013

Hearing Information
Subject: The Register's Call for Updates to U.S. Copyright Law
Wednesday 3/20/2013 - 3:30 p.m.
2141 Rayburn House Office Building
Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet

Blogger <no-reply at blogger.com>
11:27 AM (1 hour ago)
This afternoon the US Committee on the Judiciary will hear from Maria
Pallante, head of the US Copyright Office, on "The Register's Call for
Updates to U.S. Copyright Law". Pallante's message is simple: the law is
showing the strain of its age and requires the attention of Congress.

Pallante says that "a central equation for Congress to consider is what
does and does not belong under a copyright owner’s control in the digital
age. I do not believe that the control of copyright owners should be
absolute, but it needs to be meaningful. People around the world
increasingly are accessing content on mobile devices and fewer and fewer of
them will need or desire the physical copies that were so central to the
19th and 20th century copyright laws."
The list of issues which need to be addressed will surprise no-one:
clarifying the scope of exclusive rights, revising exceptions and
limitations for libraries and archives, addressing orphan works,
accommodating persons who have print disabilities, providing guidance to
educational institutions, exempting incidental copies in appropriate
instances, updating enforcement provisions, providing guidance on statutory
damages, reviewing the efficacy of the DMCA, assisting with small copyright
claims, reforming the music marketplace, updating the framework for cable
and satellite transmissions, encouraging new licensing regimes, and
improving the systems of copyright registration and recordation.

When it comes to specific changes to be made to the Copyright Act, Pallante
suggests that the copyright term be reduced from 70 years plus life to 50
years plus life. A small reduction, but one which Pallante hopes will
"alleviate some of the pressure and gridlock" on copyright.
She goes on to suggest that instead of the general principle that copyright
owners should grant prior approval for the reproduction and dissemination
of their works, the law be flipped so that copyright owners would need to
specifically opt out to prevent certain uses. It seems that this suggestion
could be viewed as a radical change to copyright law which Pallante
discusses only in relation to educational institutions and libraries but
which has the potential to go further. Alternatively it could simply be
seen as an extension of the fair use exception, even though Pallante does
not use those words.

Although Pallante's statement is general and on the surface
uncontroversial, and any changes implemented will not happen any time soon,
it is good to see that the US is looking to modernise its copyright laws,
and will be interesting to see what (if any!) changes are made.
Pallante's statement can be found in full here.

Manon Ress
Knowledge Ecology International
manon.ress at keionline.org
tel.: +1 202 332 2670

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