Tag Archives: changes at the copyright office

COMMENTS ON THE REFORM OF U.S. COPYRIGHT OFFICE

On January 30, 2017 DMLA joined with the other members of a Coalition of Visual Artists (APA, ASMP, GAG, NPPA, NANPA, and PPA) in a joint response to the House Judiciary Committee with comments to the first proposal by Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers “Reform of the U.S. Copyright Office.”

After months of hard work to reach consensus and a united voice, our comments, entitled “Creating a USCO Capable of Succeeding in A Changing World”, begins “Collectively, all members of the signatory associations depend on effective copyright protection and enforcement for their livelihood.” To ensure that happening we continue “We join with the Judiciary Committee’s call for greater autonomy for the Copyright Office. Regardless of whether the Office remains an independent agency housed in the Library of Congress, or an independent agency under the Legislative Branch with no connection to the Library of Congress, history has demonstrated that it is essential that it have autonomy over the its budget and its technology needs as well as its operational procedures (staffing, fees, structure, etc.).

The comments of the coalition also address the issue of the Register of Copyrights:
“We further support the selection of the Register of Copyrights as a Presidential appointee. If the judiciary committee decides to pursue this approach, we urge the Congress to move with great alacrity in passing the necessary legislation and respectfully urge the Librarian to refrain from appointing a new Register and instead await such legislative action. We fear that otherwise, many qualified candidates may not be willing to take the position of Register under existing procedures, uncertain whether that their appointment may be just months long.”
The Small Claims System Hosted by the United States Copyright Office” is also addressed “For the members of the visual arts community the overriding purpose of a copyright small claims proposal is narrow and straightforward: to end a longstanding inequity in our copyright system and finally provide photographers, illustrators, graphic artists, other visual artists and their licensing representatives with a fair, cost-effective and streamlined venue in which they can seek relief for relatively modest copyright infringement claims.
Under current law, too many legitimate copyright claimants are unable to pursue a copyright infringement action in federal court. This is due primarily to the prohibitive cost of retaining counsel and maintaining the litigation for some of these high volume, relatively low value claims brought by visual artists—a situation exacerbated by the fact that “they are often opposed by large corporations with limitless resources and the resolve to complicate and protract a case in hopes that the plaintiff runs out of patience, money or both.”

A full copy of the Coalition of Visual Artists comments can be found here. (You will need to scroll down to Amicus Briefs and Notices of Inquiries)

 

DMLA Legal Blog: What is ahead for 2017

by Nancy Wolff, DMLA Counsel

2017 is off to a rapid start for the DMLA legal committee and team. In December DMLA, along with other visual artist associations, (American Photographic Artists, American Society of Media Photographers, Graphic Artists Guild, National Press Photographers Association, North American Nature Photography Association and Professional Photographers of America) attended the annual face to face meeting of visual artists’ associations to set the course of collaborative action for the coming year. This year’s meeting was in DC, and the changes at the Copyright Office; the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s Reform of the Copyright Office together with recent copyright small claims bills were priority topics.

In addition to strategizing on how to approach the above issues, we had a training session on lobbying, a meeting with Keith Kupferschmid, the CEO of the Copyright Alliance on participating in a search for a new register at the Copyright Office; discussions on whether the Copyright Office should move out of the Library of Congress; and a guest speaker, Rob Kasunic, Associate Register of Copyrights and Directors of Registration Practice Policy & Practice at the US Copyright Office. Specifically, Rob discussed a recently published notice of proposed rulemaking regarding group registration of photographs that will impact how published and unpublished photographs are registered as well as the database registrations employed by many DMLA members.

The day was full with many open items to work on in 2017, with several responses to requests for comments from the Copyright Office and the legislature due by the end of this January. This annual meeting is in addition to nearly weekly meetings DMLA participates in with these associations. Since last year when we anticipated proposed copyright small claims legislation, the associations have been in frequent communication to work swiftly and cohesively when the need arises. A lesson learned from the proposed Orphan Works legislation nearly ten years ago was that the visual artists’ community needs to speak with as unified a voice as possible with Congress and the Copyright Office if our message is to be heard and considered. DMLA represents the only association of licensing entities and our perspective is important in highlighting the economic importance of licensing and the need for a robust copyright system. The Legal Committee will be sending requests for action items on pending responses due this month so look out for updates and please participate as we need to hear from all members on these important issues!