Tag Archives: U.S. Copyright Office

Coalition of Visual Artists Respond to House Judiciary Committee on U.S. Copyright Office Reform

On January 30, 2017 DMLA Digital Media Licensing Association) 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.”

Read all about it here with a link to the full comments.

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)

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.

 

Update on System Outages Affecting the Copyright Office

From the Library of Congress:

Over the weekend, as part of routine maintenance, the Library of Congress shut down a data center that hosts a number of U.S. Copyright Office systems, including the online copyright registration system, eCO. The Library of Congress attempted to reopen the data center on Sunday evening, but has been unable to restore access to Copyright Office systems. As result, eCO remains offline, and Copyright Office staff are unable to access internal shared network resources. Until service is restored, you will be unable to use the eCO system to file a copyright registration, and Office staff may be unable to access Office records.

Please note that during this outage, you can still file a copyright registration for your work(s) using a paper registration form. Fillable PDF registration forms are available at http://copyright.gov/forms/. For further information, please contact 202-707-3000 or 1-877-476-0778 (toll free).

The Library of Congress informs us that it is working to resolve the problems as expeditiously as possible, but we do not have an estimated time for service resumption. A notification will be sent when service is restored.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

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 Requests Public Comment on Mass Digitization Pilot Program

The U.S. Copyright Office has published a Federal Register notice requesting written comments to assist it in developing draft legislation that would establish a legal framework for certain mass digitization activities. For the past several years, the Office has been exploring ways to facilitate and support mass digitization projects serving the public interest while appropriately balancing the interests and concerns of copyright owners. In its recently issued Orphan Works and Mass Digitization Report, the Office proposed the creation of a limited “pilot program” that would allow certain types of mass digitization projects to be authorized through a system known as extended collective licensing (ECL). The ECL pilot program recommended by the Office would enable users to digitize and provide access to certain works for research and education purposes under conditions to be agreed upon between rightsholder and user representatives.

Because the success of such a system depends on the voluntary involvement of both copyright owners and users, the Office is inviting public comment on several issues concerning the scope and operation of the pilot program. The Office will then seek to facilitate further discussion through stakeholder meetings and, if necessary, additional requests for written comment. Based on this input, the Office will draft a formal legislative proposal for Congress’s consideration.

The Notice of Inquiry is available here. Written comments are due on or before August 10, 2015.

DMLA via our counsel, Nancy Wolff, is working on comments representing our association.  We are also working with our Ad Hoc Association Group so that our comments are aligned and that we speak as a united industry.  Please feel free to send your input to Nancy at NWolff@cdas.com

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.

Maria Pallante’s Testimony before the House Judiciary Committee

Maria Pallante is the current Register of Copyrights and Director of the United States Copyright Office. Her testimony today before the House Judiciary Committee was, as expected, full of ideas for modernization of the copyright office which she sees as a top priority.

Maria also suggests that various issues including Music Licensing, Small Claims, Felony Streaming, Orphan works, Resale Royalty, Section 108 reform, improvements for persons with print impairment, and presumptions regarding section 1201 exceptions, have been studied by the Office and are ripe for legislative action. Her testimony additionally identifies other issues where the Office will conduct further study, and issues as to which the Office suggests action is needed but must occur in the courts or by other means.

Her remarks also included the announcement of the creation of The U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index. This Fair Use Index is a project undertaken by the Office of the Register in support of the 2013 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement of the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC). Fair use is a longstanding and vital aspect of American copyright law. The goal of the Index is to make the principles and application of fair use more accessible and understandable to the public by presenting a searchable database of court opinions, including by category and type of use (e.g., music, internet/digitization, parody).

You can access the entire testimony here.

Copyright Office Releases Comprehensive Music Licensing Study

There have been many opinions circulating about this report from the Copyright office. If you would like to read the actual report you’ll find the link in this article.

The U.S. Copyright Office has released a comprehensive study, “Copyright and the Music Marketplace,” detailing the aging music licensing framework as well as the ever-evolving needs of those who create and invest in music in the twenty-first century. In addition to providing an exhaustive review of the existing system, the report makes a number of recommendations that would bring both clarity and relief to songwriters, artists, publishers, record labels, and digital delivery services.

“Few would dispute that music is culturally essential and economically important to the world we live in,” said Maria A. Pallante, Register of Copyrights, “but the reality is that both music creators and the innovators who support them are increasingly doing business in legal quicksand. As this report makes clear, this state of affairs neither furthers the copyright law nor befits a nation as creative as the United States.”

There is broad consensus across the music industry on a number of key points: (1) creators should be fairly compensated; (2) the licensing process should be more efficient; (3) market participants should have access to authoritative data to identify and license sound recordings and musical works; and (4) payment and usage information should be transparently available to rightsholders. But there is less agreement as to how best to move forward.

The Copyright Office’s recommendations address almost every aspect of the music landscape, including the existing statutory licenses, the role of performing rights organizations, terrestrial performance rights for sound recordings, federal protection for pre-1972 sound recordings, access to music ownership data, and the concerns of songwriters and recording artists. These recommendations present a series of balanced tradeoffs designed to create a more rational music licensing system for all.

The full report and executive summary are available on the Copyright Office’s website at http://copyright.gov/docs/musiclicensingstudy/.