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Overhauling Copyright Law- A Work in Progress


library copyright alliance.pngMaria Pallante, our Register of Copyrights gave a lecture March 4th this year stating her case that the copyright law is in need of major revision. Her lecture, “The Next Great Copyright Act” found its way to the attention of legislators in the House of Representatives.

Since the spring of this year, there have been discussions in Congress regarding overhauling the copyright law. In a press release from the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary dated April 24, 2013, Representative Bob Goodlatte (R.VA) announced:

Chairman Goodlatte: “As we mark World Intellectual Property Day today in the Jefferson Building, I would point out that the U.S. Copyright Office first opened in this building in 1897 under the direction of our nation’s first Register of Copyrights, Thorvald Solberg, who served as Register for the next 33 years. During his tenure as Register, Solberg oversaw the implementation of the Third Revision of America’s copyright law in 1909 that modernized the copyright law for that era in ways that seem quaint today. … So it is my belief that a wide review of our nation’s copyright laws and related enforcement mechanisms is timely. I am announcing today that the House Judiciary Committee will hold a comprehensive series of hearings on U.S. copyright law in the months ahead. The goal of these hearings will be to determine whether the laws are still working in the digital age. I welcome all interested parties to submit their views and concerns to the Committee..”

It has been 35 years since a major revision of the copyright law, Title 17 of the U.S. Code. There are many interested stakeholders.

A hearing in May ( A Case Study for Consensus Building: The Copyright Principles Project) reviewed a consensus building project regarding copyright with five members of the project testifying for the Committee.

The American Librarian Association “District Dispatch” blog, written by the ALA Washington Office staff, blogged about ongoing hearings in August:

“The first of these hearings, titled “Innovation in America: The Role of Copyrights”, was held on July 24. Unsurprisingly, the hearing focused on the testimony of groups representing rights holders like the Copyright Alliance and the American Society of Media Photographers among others. Much attention was given to the effectiveness of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the alleged need for more piracy protection.”

A second hearing “Innovation in America: The Role of Technology” took place on August 1, before the recess of Congress and then the build up to the government shutdown

This is an opportunity to follow along a legislative process that promises to have many interested parties and will have a major impact on how copyright influences education. If you are interested in following the hearings you can use the House Judiciary Committee website as well as the District Dispatch blog.

blog post created by Lorre Smith

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