Last-Minute Legislating on Copyright Grab Bag

Lately my mind has been focused on the exciting endeavor of teaching my first classes more than on blogging — and since I am teaching civil procedure this semester, the overlap with Info/Law has been minimal.

But I did want to post on the fact that the House Judiciary Committee, after months of inaction on intellectual property issues, appears to be poised to mark up a grab-bag copyright bill in a mad rush before the end of the session.

The bill includes some pretty good things, such as a version of the orphan works bill I have discussed previously. But it also includes questionable measures, particularly an attempt to revise Section 115 to accommodate licensing of online music — an important goal but one executed poorly here.

As a former Capitol Hill staffer, I can tell you that six weeks before an election, only two outcomes are possible: the bill will die, or it will be sped through the legislative process without adequate caution and consideration. As often has been the case, an IP bill could become law before many of us who understand the subject (not to mention those who vote on it) even have a chance to read it.

Bill Patry has his usual cogent analysis, and Gigi Sohn of Public Knowledge has a lot to say about it as well. If your representative sits on the House Judiciary Committee, consider calling up and objecting. Even if this bill were great — and it isn’t — last-minute legislating on complicated subjects is asking for trouble.

2 Responses to “Last-Minute Legislating on Copyright Grab Bag”

  1. [...] Public Knowledge reports that today’s scheduled Judiciary Committee markup of the copyright bill I discussed here was cancelled. That’s the second time the committee has postponed consideration of the legislation, although last week the reason was purportedly lack of time. [...]

  2. [...] Ars Technica has the story of a new “Intellectual Property Manifesto” issued yesterday by the British Library. The Library recommends a number of changes to UK intellectual property law, the general thrust of which would be to diminish the differences between the scope of IP rights that authors enjoy in the digital and analog domains. As in the United States, European copyright law grants a number of additional legal rights to copyright owners whose works are issued in digital form above and beyond the ordinary copyright rights to prevent unauthorized duplication and the like. The British Library’s manifesto (available here and worth a read; it’s not lengthy) suggests curtailing those additional rights, which would shrink digital IP law back to something more resembling the traditional historical contours of copyright doctrine. The Library’s proposal also would make clear that “fair dealing” privileges (analogous to what we in the U.S. would categorize as “fair uses”) extend equally to digital and non-digital works alike. Finally, the “manifesto” also offers recommendations on dealing with copyright duration and with orphan works, which (as Bill mentioned here and here) has also been the subject of a great deal of attention here in the U.S. recently. [...]