There is now a vacancy in the top position at the Copyright Office, the Register of Copyrights, and the Librarian of Congress, who appoints the Register, has asked for comments on the role and qualifications for the new Register. These comments are due by January 31, 2017. While setting copyright law has
copyright small claims
The Next Congress Has Not Yet Begun, and Already Copyright Issues are Poised for Comment – First Up, Copyright Office Reform
While the new Congress will not begin until after the New Year, already copyright reform has been teed up to be on the agenda. Posted last week on the website of the House of Representative’s Judiciary Committee was an announcement that the committee would be posting policy proposals for copyright reform from time to time, and asking for public comment. The first proposal was posted with that announcement, looking at suggestions for reform of the structure of the Copyright Office.
The initial proposals are modest, suggesting that the Register of Copyrights be independently appointed (rather than being selected by the Librarian of Congress), that the Office has greater independence to appoint advisory committees and over its technology budget, and that there be authority to set up a small copyright claims adjudicatory process. We wrote about the small claims proposal that was advanced in Congress last year, here. We also have written about more sweeping changes that have been proposed for the Copyright Office, here, which apparently are not yet on the table. However, as this policy proposal solicits public comment by January 31, 2017, other ideas for the reform of the Copyright Office may be advanced in the comments that are submitted. …
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Congressional Proposal for Copyright Small Claims Court – What Does It Suggest?
In the last few weeks, we’ve seen almost daily press reports of new lawsuits against media companies being sued for the use of photos on their websites without permission of the photographers. We’ve written many times about copyright issues that can arise if media companies put content on their website without getting permission of the copyright holder. Most recently, we wrote about the legal issues that can arise by taking photos or videos from Internet sites and reposting them to your own site, or using them in on-air productions. We’ve also written articles about how your ASCAP, BMI and SESAC license don’t give you rights to use music in video productions or to post online music that can be accessed in any on-demand fashion – so that such rights have to be cleared directly with copyright holders for such uses – including the use of music in podcasts. Even though these concerns exist, some copyright holders have been reluctant to sue, as litigation over these matters sometimes costs more than the likely recovery (though broadcasters, too, are concerned about litigation as the costs of defending against such a lawsuit can be very high). One idea has been kicking around for a long time – some sort of small claims court for resolving smaller copyright claims at less cost to the parties. Last month, a bill was introduced in Congress to create such a court – a new Copyright Claims Board.
The bill was sponsored by a single Congressman, and has thus far received the support of only a single co-sponsor. Given the time left in the current Congressional session, it would be unlikely to go any further this year. But with a promised examination of the Copyright Act generally on tap for the next Congress, some part, or all, of this proposal might again see the light of day next year. For a bill sponsored by a single Congressman, introduced late in the Congressional session with little time for approval, the bill is actually quite detailed, setting out a complete structure for the new court, as well as specific procedures that would be followed by any copyright owner seeking to adjudicate their claims through this new process.
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