Category Archives: U.S. Copyright Office

Maria Pallante Removed as Head of Copyright Office

Horrible news emanated from the Library of Congress on Friday morning when the notice of the firing of Maria Pallante was made public. This move is unheard of for the position of the US Register of Copyrights where historically the Register has stepped down or retired. Pallante was informed of her change in roles by being locked out of her computer.

Maria is a huge advocate for the rights of Creators and has been instrumental in the industry’s efforts for modernizing the Copyright Office and the creation of a Small Claim’s Court for Creators.  She is seen as being fair and unbiased by all who know her.

This move by the the newly appointed Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, is seen by many as a line in the sand as to how the Library of Congress want creators to be treated.  Here are a few articles on the firing.  Look for more information here as this issue evolves.

billboard.com

loc.gov/today

DMCA Takedown Notice Survey

Has your copyrighted work been used on the Internet without your permission?

Are you a photographer, illustrator, graphic artist or designer, or other visual creator?

Are you an artist’s/photographer’s agent or representative, or an image licensing agent?

Have you discovered infringing use of your images, or the images you license, on the Internet and used the DMCA Takedown Notice procedure to have the images removed from a website? If so, we’d like to know about your experience.

The US Copyright Office is conducting a study about the efficacy of the DMCA Takedown Notice procedure. The following group of associations are working together to conduct a survey of image rights holders and licensing professionals to gather information for the Copyright Office study.

Please help us in our advocacy efforts on behalf of all American visual artists and participate in our anonymous short survey.

The survey will close at midnight, Sunday, March 21, 2016.

SURVEY LINK https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DMCAvisualsurvey

Thank you!

American Photographic Artists
American Society of Media Photographers
Digital Media Licensing Association
Graphic Artists Guild
National Press Photographers Association
North American Nature Photography Association
Professional Photographers of America
PLUS (The Picture Licensing Universal System)

Copyright Small Claims White Paper Released by Visual Arts Associations

Seven visual arts associations release proposal to Congress for copyright small claims legislation.

 March 2, 2016 – While there has been a great deal of discussion recently about the possibility of Congress creating a small claims process for visual arts, several visual artist groups, representing hundreds of thousands of creators, have joined forces to propose key components of potentially forthcoming small claims legislation. Collectively, the groups represent photographers, photojournalists, videographers, illustrators, graphic designers, artists, and other visual artists as well as their licensing representatives.

The white paper, which can be viewed here, advocates for the creation of a small claims tribunal within the U.S. Copyright Office. The document is a collaboration between American Photographic Artists (APA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG), National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) and Professional Photographers of America (PPA).

These organizations have identified the creation of a small claims option to be their most urgent legislative priority before Congress. They assert that the cost and burden of maintaining a lawsuit in the only existing venue for hearing copyright infringement claims—federal district courts—is prohibitive and all too often leaves visual artists no way to vindicate their rights. They see a small claims process within the Copyright Office as providing a fair, cost-effective and streamlined venue in which they can seek relief for relatively modest copyright infringement claims.

This negotiated document, which lays out the basic framework for small claims legislation, is in large part consistent with the legislative recommendations set out in the “Copyright Small Claims” report released in late 2013 by the U.S. Copyright Office. In some instances, the white paper offers alternative suggestions to those put forth by the Copyright Office.

Nancy Wolff, DMLA Counsel, has been an active participant in this process “DMLA stands with the visual artist community in support of the Copyright Office’s initiative to create an alternative to Federal Court to address copyright claims of lesser value. The licensing industry depends upon affordable and effective enforcement of copyright to reduce the use of unlicensed imagery, and this creates a path to increased licensing compliance and respect for copyright.”

The visual artists’ organizations listed above have now distributed this legislative proposal for a copyright small claims tribunal to members of Congress, the United States Copyright Office, the members of the undersigned organizations, and other important copyright stakeholders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW COPYRIGHT NOTICE OF INQUIRY

The US Copyright Office has issued a Notice of Inquiry seeking input on issues related to the DMCA safe harbors and the notice-and-takedown provisions. They are specifically looking for input from the perspectives of large- and small-scale copyright owners and online service providers. A copy of the notice can be found here. I plan to respond on behalf of DMLA. Individual members are free to file their own responses as well.

As background, the DMCA notice-and-takedown procedure was created by Congress in 1998 as a means by which copyright owners and representatives can address online infringement, and online service providers can limit their liability for third party conduct on the web; it was intended to help foster the growth of the internet. The process begins when a copyright owner gives an online service provider notice of specific infringing conduct, as well as certain additional information as required by Section 512(c)(3) of the Copyright Act. Following receipt of notice, the OSP must either comply with the takedown request and remove the infringing content from their website or submit a counter notification attesting to their rightful use of the allegedly infringing content. This process can, to a certain extent, be automated using software that searches for infringing uses. However, the fact that an OSP complies with a takedown request for one particular infringing use does not prevent additional infringing uses from appearing on the OSP’s website in the future. Each instance of infringement must be addressed by the notice-and-takedown process. This process has proven overwhelming for most content owners and has been likened to a game of whack a mole where as soon as you have infringing content taken down, it appears on another site so you are continuously in a cycle of sending takedown notices. Many content owners do not have the resources or staff to continually search the Internet for unauthorized uses of content.

In preparing my response, I’m seeking input from members. The notice has 30 specific issues that we can address. Of particular interest to the DMLA and its Members are the Copyright Office’s following issues:

  1. How has the safe harbor for internet service providers impacted the protection and value of copyrighted works, including licensing markets for such works? And have the safe harbors struck the correct balance between copyright owners and online service providers?
  2. How effective, efficient, and/or burdensome is the notice-and-takedown process for addressing online infringement?
  3. Does the notice-and-takedown process sufficiently address the reappearance of infringing material previously removed in response to a notice?
  4. Are there any existing or emerging “standard technical measures” that could or should apply to obtain the benefits of the section 512 safe harbors.(For example, should the OSPs work with image libraries in using image recognition technology to eliminate infringing works from their sites?
  5. What, if anything, should be done to address these concerns?

Please will free to send comments to me on these or any of the other issues addressed in the notice of inquiry. I plan to coordinate responses with the various other associations involved in the visual content community. The notice of inquiry must be submitted by March 21, 2016. If I could have responses by March 1, it would be greatly appreciated.

Nancy Wolff                                                                                                                                                     DMLA counsel (nwolff@cdas.com)

Reps. Chu, Marino Introduce Bill with Historic Reforms to the Copyright Office

Washington, D.C.—Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), Congressman Tom Marino (PA-10) and Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (VA-10) have introduced H.R. 4241 – the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act or the CODE Act. This comes after months of discussion with various stakeholders, including several joint Member roundtables.

As a result, improvements were made to the bill which reflect a consensus across various industries and public interest groups since the discussion draft bill was released for comment in June. Among the new changes are:

  • Housing the Copyright Office in the Legislative Branch
  • Requiring ongoing technology studies to ensure the office remains current with technology to be more user friendly which includes improving upon the searchable database
  • The establishment of an advisory board representing a variety of interests and views tasked with providing the Office with candid feedback on the office current field of copyright to ensure neutrality and objectivity
  • Technical provisions to ensure a more seamless transition away from the Library of Congress

Congresswoman Chu said the following of the bill:

“I am proud to join Rep. Marino to introduce legislation that would modernize the Copyright Office. The copyright industries are responsible for millions of jobs and billions of dollars in our economy, yet the office responsible is running on analog in a digital world. Over the course of this year, we met with interested stakeholders to discuss the needs of the Copyright Office and the changes we must make to bring it into the modern age. I appreciate their participation and the feedback we received that helped shape this legislation. As a result, this bill would make operational improvements, provide budgetary control to the Copyright Office, and ensure that it has sound legal ground to perform its core mission. I look forward to continuing my work with colleagues and interested parties on the improvements needed to ensure that our country has a Copyright Office that reflects the 21st century.”

Congressman Marino said:

“Creativity is the essence that has made America the most prosperous nation in the world. However, we have allowed our Copyright Office to fall behind the fast-moving pace of America’s creators and the industries they work within, which hurts copyright holders as well as the public. This bill will ensure the Office has great autonomy to more quickly adapt to changes in technology and accessibility to ensure the public can enjoy the benefits of creative works while ensuring the artists get paid. We approached this effort thoroughly and sought the advice and feedback of everyone interested in copyright. This bill is well thought-out, reasonable and provides a long-term solution to the Copyright Office’s ailments. I am more than confident this proposal will garner more and more support as we move forward.”

 

 

Copyright Registration Systems Are Back Online

From the Library of Congress:

Systems of the United States Copyright Office are back online as of 8:00 am, Sunday, September 6, 2015 and customers may resume submitting registration applications electronically.

As previously reported, on Friday, August 28th, the Library of Congress shut down a data center that hosts a number of agency technology systems, including the Copyright Office’s electronic registration program.  This was done to accommodate a two-day annual power outage scheduled by the Architect of the Capitol, which owns and maintains Library buildings.  On Sunday, August 30th, the Library attempted to reopen the data center, but was unable to bring copyright systems and other agency functions online as planned.  Both Library and Copyright Office staff have since worked around the clock to assess problems and solutions and ensure the ongoing integrity of Copyright Office data.

Thank you for your ongoing patience.

 

DMLA LEGAL UPDATE: Copyright Office News & New York State Right of Publicity Bill

2015 has already been a busy year for the U.S. Copyright Office and for DMLA’s Legal Counsel. The Copyright Office has been publishing policy reports, issuing Notices of Inquiry (“NOI”), conducting various studies, and participating in congressional hearings about copyright law reform.  The DMLA team has been busy answering the NOI’s and participating in various letter writing campaigns to address the various issues.  You can read all the details here.

DMLA Legal Update: Copyright Office News & New York State Right of Publicity Bill

2015 has already been a busy year for the U.S. Copyright Office. They have been publishing policy reports, issuing Notices of Inquiry (“NOI”), conducting various studies, and participating in congressional hearings about copyright law reform.

The Copyright Office recently released a 234-page report entitled “Orphan Works and Mass Digitization,” followed by an NOI seeking comments about a potential extended collective licensing pilot program to facilitate the digitization of collections of books, photographs, and other materials for nonprofit education and research purposes. The Office is also in the process of conducting a study about the extent to which the Copyright Act’s bundle of exclusive rights satisfies the requirement under the WIPO treaties that member countries recognize copyright holders’ “making available” and “communication to the public” rights.

In addition to these activities there is currently a discussion draft of proposed legislation pertaining to the Copyright Office circulating in the House of Representatives, and the Office has issued an NOI specifically concerning the legal challenges facing visual artists and the licensing industry.

Proposed Legislation for Copyright Office Reform

Earlier this month House representatives Judy Chu and Tom Marino released a discussion draft of the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act (“CODE” Act). This Act comes after more than a year of Congressional hearings on the status of U.S. copyright law. It would establish the Copyright Office as an independent agency with its director appointed by the President. It would further bring the Copyright Office into the 21st Century vis-à-vis reforms to the registration process and the deposit requirement. The purpose of these reforms would be to facilitate a streamlined registration process, as well as establish a meaningful public record of copyrights. You can read the final version of the discussion draft here, and a section-by-section overview of the bill’s key points here.

DMLA supports this bill and looks forward to the continued discussions about the proposals.

Copyright Office Visual Works Notice of Inquiry

In April the Copyright Office issued an NOI calling for comments about the challenges to monetizing and licensing, registering, and enforcing copyrights in visual works such as photographs, illustrations and graphic artworks. This NOI is a critical opportunity for DMLA and our members to voice the concerns of content creators and the licensing industry over the current state of copyright law in the U.S. DMLA is drafting a response that will focus on the legal and practical barriers faced by copyright holders and licensors and reiterate support for the proposed Copyright Small Claims Court, address issues with notice and take-downs and the difficulty in the registration system.

The response to this NOI is due July 23, 2015. DMLA is working in collaboration with other visual artists associations in preparing a response to this NOI. Individual members are encouraged to provide a response as well. For more information visit the Copyright Office webpage dedicated to this NOI.

New York Right of Publicity Bill

Early this month legislation that would amend New York’s right of publicity statute to retroactively extend rights to deceased personalities was introduced as companion bills in the State Assembly and Senate. Similar legislation was introduced several years ago by the Strasberg Estate, which owns Marilyn Monroe’s publicity rights. That bill was defeated with the help of a coalition of rights holders associations who principally voiced concern over the lack of an expressive works exemption. The language of the bill was vague and would encourage litigation and interfere with image licensing. The DMLA, MPAA, New York State Broadcasters Association, New York News Publishers Association, and several others coordinated a letter writing campaign to voice the concerns of rights holders in the film, publishing, broadcasting, and licensing industries. We are happy to report that the bills were not put to vote before the end of the legislative session on Friday, June 26th. This does not necessarily mean the fight is over, however, and it is likely that similar legislation will come up during future legislative sessions. We will keep an eye on any new efforts to introduce a retroactive right of publicity bill.

Copyright Office Issues a Notice of Inquiry on Photographs, Graphic Artworks, and Illustrations

The U.S. Copyright Office has published a Federal Register notice requesting written comments on how certain visual works, particularly photographs, graphic artworks, and illustrations, are monetized, enforced, and registered under the Copyright Act. The Office is specifically interested in the current marketplace for these visual works, as well as observations regarding the real or potential obstacles that these authors and, as applicable, their licensees or other representatives face when navigating the digital landscape.

Photographers, graphic artists, and illustrators have expressed a growing list of concerns in recent years when speaking to both the Copyright Office and Members of Congress. This Notice of Inquiry thus builds upon our longstanding policy interest in these types of visual works, including the Copyright Office’s studies in a number of areas such as small claims, the making available right, resale royalties, registration, recordation, and the interoperability of records. As always, the Office is interested in the perspectives of copyright owners as well as users of these creative works. This is a general inquiry that will likely lead to additional specific inquiries.

The Notice of Inquiry is available here. Written comments are due on or before July 23, 2015, and reply comments are due on or before August 24, 2015.

DMLA will be preparing a response to this inquiry and we welcome input from our members. Please contact Nancy Wolff, DMLA Counsel at NWolff@cdas.com with your comments.