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The U.S. Copyright Office came to Stanford Law School yesterday to conduct a roundtable on Recordation Reengineering,  The Stanford Law School Law and Policy Lab submitted comments and a thoughtful White Paper, and live tweeted the proceeding along with us (see @slspolicylab and @fairlyused). The Law and Policy Lab was represented at the roundtable by Peter Holm, third year law student.  We interviewed Peter to get the essence of the issue and the White Paper, which is available as document 23 on the Copyright Office comments page.

The roundtable was conducted by Robert Brauneis, Abraham L. Kaminstein Scholar in Residence, U.S. Copyright Office.

Robert Brauneis, Abraham L. Kaminstein Scholar in Residence, U.S. Copyright Office

Robert Brauneis, Abraham L. Kaminstein Scholar in Residence, U.S. Copyright Office

The White Paper was submitted to Brauneis by Ariel Green, Sean Harb, Peter Holm, Kingdar Prussien, Kasonni Scales, and Juliana Yee, Copyright Policy Lab Practicum

Mary Minow: What was the impetus that led Stanford to research and write this White Paper?

Peter Holm:  The Copyright Office contacted Stanford initially and Professor Paul Goldstein contacted us.  I took a copyright class in the Fall of 2012 with Professor Goldstein. He emailed a few of us over the summer to see if we were interested. He described it as a chance to offer concrete suggestions to modernize the Copyright Office operations.

Minow: That sounds broad.  When did the focus narrow to copyright document recordations?

Holm:  That narrower focus developed in the Fall as we spoke with Maria Pallante, Register of Copyrights; Jacqueline Charlesworth, General Counsel, United States Copyright Office, and then with Professor Bob Brauneis who is there as a scholar in residence on these issues.

Minow:  Why does this matter?

Holm:  To have economic value, an owner of copyrighted works has to be able to sell and make his works available. If you don’t know who the owner is, you can’t make those transactions and the works lose value, so availability of this information is integral.

Minow: How do people find out now about who owns what copyrights?

Holm: It varies by industry.  Neither registration of copyrights nor recordation of copyright transfers are required, but both have benefits to the owner. Because taking these steps is voluntary, the amount of information available for any given work varies considerably.  So for example, in the music industry, there is extensive ownership information and licensing availability through ASCAP, BMI and the Harry Fox agency.  So if I want to play Elton John at a party open to all Stanford students, I can get a license from those collecting societies and not worry about who owns the rights.

Whereas if I find a book in the library, published in 1955 and I want to use it, it’s harder to find information.  There are probably records at the Copyright Office for the initial owner, as registration used to be required, but subsequent transfers might not have been recorded, so many questions remain. Did he transfer the copyright at some point? If not, is the author still alive? Did it go to his heirs, and who are they?

There is a substantial cost to investigating this, and often one doesn’t know who to talk to.

Minow: What’s the gist of your proposal?

Holm: It’s not a proposal per se. It’s really a list of options and tradeoffs.  We look at the role of the copyright office. Should it hold a giant database, partner with third parties?  Really it comes down to how do we best provide access to the public and get the information they need without overly burdening authors with unnecessary requirements?  We don’t want to make it too hard for them to exercise their rights to transfer works, since transfers are potentially beneficial.

Minow: What are the benefits of recording transfer documents, since it’s not required?

Holm:  It gives constructive notice of the transfer.  Also, if you record a transfer document there is a presumption of validity for that document over subsequent instruments of transfer of the same title.

Minow: Thanks for talking with us today.

——

Peter Holm is a third year law student at Stanford Law School.

Mary Minow is the Executive Editor of the Stanford Copyright & Fair Use page.

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ORPHAN WORKS is red hot again.  After a number of failed legislative attempts and a couple of high profile court cases, its back to the drawing board, albeit a better defined drawing board.  On the one hand, most everyone agrees that  for true orphans, it would be great for us all to be able to digitize, copy, adapt, distribute and otherwise use them. On the other hand, how do we know it’s a true orphan? What if there is an “orphan” owner?

The Copyright Office just held two days of public roundtables on Orphan Works (See twitter #orphanworks for some flavor of the sessions). The Copyright Office has now opened up the floodgates for public comment from those of us who were not in D.C. Continue reading →

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The highly successful open course from Harvard prepared and delivered by Prof. William Fisher is in its Spring 2014 incarnation. It has a clear organization that lets you dive into a specific area that interests you like Technological Protection Measures. A full set of lectures and other resources available to the public online. I especially like the copyright concept maps.  A vision for the course can be found here.

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http://judiciary.house.gov/index.cfm/hearings?ID=8E18A9AA-1AA4-4D7C-8EBF-0284862EC44B

A little hidden on the Internets, so we bring the Congressional hearings on Fair Use here to you:

January 28, 2014

Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building

 

 

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By way of introduction, you might wonder: what is the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA)?

UELMA was approved in July 2011 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (now the Uniform Law Commission). UELMA addresses the challenges states face in providing permanent public access to trustworthy electronic legal material. UELMA gives states a lot of flexibility. It does not require them to make an online version of the law official. But if a state does designate an online version as official, then UELMA requires that the online version be:

  1. Authenticated, by providing a method to determine that it is unaltered;
  2. Preserved, either in electronic or print form; and
  3. Accessible, for use by the public on a permanent basis.

The types of legal materials that might be included in an UELMA enactment are state constitutions, state session laws, codified laws, and agency regulations which have the effect of law. UELMA also establishes a presumption that a state’s authenticated laws are accurate copies, and that presumption applies in every state that has enacted UELMA. So adopting UELMA will harmonize standards for acceptance of electronic legal material across state boundaries.

If a state designates an online version of its primary legal materials as official, UELMA’s preservation component requires provisions for backup and recovery, and procedures to ensure the integrity and continued usability of the material.

When UELMA was first enacted, the Government Relations Office (GRO) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) reached out to AALL members and chapters, looking for people to get involved with promoting the passage of UELMA.

I had moved to Colorado in July, 2011. In November, the GRO got in touch with me and asked if I would be the lead advocate in Colorado for UELMA. I was really excited about UELMA and I said yes. The GRO sent me position statements and FAQs and a contact in the Colorado Senate. It was about then that I began to wonder what I had done.

I was entirely new to the state, had no personal relations with any state legislators, stakeholders, librarians, Library groups, or anyone else. But I read my materials and went off to meet the senator with all my materials to ask for someone to sponsor the uniform law.

So what did I actually wind up doing, besides meeting with the senator? I personally emailed every senator on the senate judiciary committee and every representative on the house judiciary committee, explaining what UELMA was, sending links, and offering to help. The senator who introduced the bill asked for some further help with issues about disability access under UELMA, and I sent her my comments.

No one else took me up on my offer until a day in March 2012 when I got an email, apologizing for the lateness and asking if I could testify before the Senate Judiciary committee on UELMA the next day .  Sadly I was on a business trip in California, so I called the trusty GRO and asked for help. Together we put together a letter, which I emailed in. It was a helpful letter, according to the sponsor. It was read into the record. The bill passed the senate committee unanimously and was sent to finance.

I sent legislators lots of information about the many ways that documents can be authenticated because the Code of Colorado Regulations online is the official version and if UELMA was passed in Colorado, it was going to cost money to authenticate it. The bill sailed through the finance committee and headed to the house. Without any help from me, it passed through both committees in the house and went to the governor.

After UELMA was law, I got in touch with the agency that had been given the job of implementing UELMA and sent them all of the information the GRO had gathered on authentication and put them in contact with Michele Timmons, the Minnesota Revisor of Statutes, who was working on an in-house authentication system.

The key takeaways for me from this process were:  you don’t need to know your legislators or have a network in place in order to effect change and work within a new system; there don’t need to be large groups of people involved; the GRO was an amazing resource; and it wasn’t really that much work!

Other states have had a much different road to enactment. For example, in California, an experienced group of law librarian advocates worked closely with Uniform Law Commissioner and Legislative Counsel of California Diane Boyer-Vine to ensure enactment.  Each story is different and some of these stories are collected at Local Advocacy Networks: Adopting UELMA in Your State and How You Can Help, by Catherine M. Dunn, Head of Reference Services at the University of Connecticut School of Law Library. There are wonderful resources at the GRO’s UELMA Resources page. AALL has also posted case studies about the Colorado and California experiences written by me and Michele Finerty, Assistant Director for Technical Services at the Pacific McGeorge School of Law.

Which states have enacted UELMA so far? In order of enactment: Colorado, California, Minnesota, North Dakota, Hawai’i, Oregon, Connecticut and Nevada.

Bills to enact UELMA are pending in the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania. For more details on dates of passage, and the status of pending bills, go to the American Association of Law Libraries’ Government Relations Office website, the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act Bill Chart, at http://www.aallnet.org/Documents/Government-Relations/UELMA/uelmabilltrack2013.pdf.

If your state has not already passed UELMA, think about getting involved as an advocate. You can contact AALL’s Government Relations Office or your local law library chapter. A few people can really make a difference!

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As you may know, the U.S. Copyright Office had approved an allowance for consumers to unlock their cellphones, as part of a triennial Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) rulemaking process, and consumers rejoiced. Fast forward to the renewal of that exception only to find that the exception was closed up in this year’s rulemaking.

Many folks are upset about this, and a recent bill could fix the situation.  The Unlocking Technology Act would allow users to unlock their cell phones, without the need to go through the triennial hearing process.

PopVox, at the moment is running an 83% support to a 17% oppose, but with a base of less than 100 voters. What do you think?

https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/113/hr1892

 

 

 

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Congressional recording available from the May 16 hearing on the Copyright Principles Project.  You may need to move the play button pretty far in to get to it.

Here are the details:

A Case Study for Consensus Building: The Copyright Principles Project

Thursday 5/16/2013 – 2:00 p.m.

Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet

2141 Rayburn House Office Building

Witness List

Mr. Jon Baumgarten
 Former General Counsel Copyright Office (1976 – 1979) 

Professor Laura Gasaway
 University of North Carolina School of Law

Professor Daniel J. Gervais
 Vanderbilt University School of Law

Professor Pamela Samuelson
 University of California Berkeley School of Law

Mr. Jule Sigall
 Assistant General Counsel for Copyright Microsoft Corporation


Chairman Goodlatte:
  This afternoon we will hear from several participants in the Copyright Principles Project who collectively have worked on or studied copyright issues for decades. They have also traveled here from all over the United States and I thank them for their willingness to be here today.Watch Webcast

By Direction of the Chairman

Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Hearing on “A Case Study for Consensus Building: The Copyright Principles Project”

Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte
Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet
Hearing on “A Case Study for Consensus Building: The Copyright Principles Project”

Copyright is a fundamental economic principle enshrined in our Constitution. It has become a core part of our economy and society in ways the framers of our Constitution could never have imagined. The ways in which creators could express themselves when the Constitution was written were very limited. Photography, musical recordings, film, and software did not arrive for decades, if not centuries, afterwards. Even many of these creations have changed significantly as digital technologies made the creation of content more diversified. Digital technologies have also enabled wider distribution to occur -local artists can have a global reach. The passion and skills of our nation’s creators have enhanced our society and culture. Creators deserve our support and respect.

Despite rapidly changing technologies and business models since the enactment of the 1976 Copyright Act, there appear to have been few efforts to bring together parties from different perspectives to discuss how the 1976 Act has worked as technology and business models evolve. There have certainly been short-term events where interested parties spoke for a few minutes each about the latest technology or the latest court decision. What has been lacking is something broader in perspective.

What impressed me about the Copyright Principles Project was not its report or even on what issues its participants were able to agree or disagree. In fact, the Committee does not endorse the specific recommendations and findings of the report. However, we do want to highlight that its participants with strongly held views on copyright law, many of which were in direct opposition to each other, committed to spending three years together in an effort to productively discuss copyright issues. The Committee has invited five of the participants here today as an example of how people with divergent views on copyright law can productively debate a range of copyright issues. Their written testimony highlights the fact that they are all here this afternoon, certainly not speaking with one voice, but speaking with a recognition that the person next to them at the witness table has just as much right to advocate their position on copyright law as they do.

This Judiciary Committee is no stranger to policy issues on which opinions vary widely. This hearing room has, and is continuing, to debate numerous policy issues in which there are sharp disagreements. There were of course sharp disagreements on the 1976 Copyright Act that we use today and whose hearing record in the Committee journals is before me.

Since announcing my interest in a comprehensive review of copyright law several weeks ago, a variety of interested parties began identifying their specific areas of interest that they wanted to see reviewed. I appreciate their input and I look forward to working with all interested parties. We should not be in a rush to focus on specific issues without first recognizing the fundamentals of copyright and the social and economic benefits that copyright brings to our economy. It is my intention to conduct this broad overview by hearing from everyone interested in copyright law as we begin by holding hearings on important fundamentals before we begin to look at more specific issues.

There are numerous questions that will be raised by interested parties during this review. I have several myself including:

How do we measure the success of copyright and what metrics are used?
How do we ensure that everyone’s voice is heard?
How is copyright working for individual artists?
How is copyright working for our nation’s economy?

These are only a few of the issues we will be looking into. This review of copyright law will not be a quick process simply because the issues are so numerous. However, we must undertake this review to ensure that copyright law continues to incentivize creativity and innovation in the digital age.

 

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Mary Minow: Good morning. I understand that international treaty discussions concerning libraries, archives and copyright are scheduled in Geneva in November 2011. How did that come to be?

Winston Tabb: Really, where we began was at the International Federation of Library Associations and Instititutions (IFLA) World Congress in Oslo in 2005. We didn’t start with the idea of a treaty at all, but with an interest in finding real-life, detailed examples from our colleagues from all parts of the world about what issues they were facing with copyright and managing their libraries. So, we planned a program session in which we organized people into discussion groups based on regions, both because of linguistic affinities and because typically regional differences may matter a lot in the challenges faced by libraries in dealing with intellectual property. Through this session we came up with a list of very specific problems that our library colleagues face in different parts of the world, and that became the basis of our thinking.

I should add that we were led to plan this session in the first place because a group of Latin American countries had strongly suggested at WIPO in 2004 that the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related rights (SCCR) should focus in the need for limitations and exceptions, and we as a library community wanted to be prepared to say which L&Es were most critical to our mission.

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The Stanford Copyright and Fair Use site is pleased to announce a new feature to aid readers in keeping up and understanding copyright cases in a timely manner: copyright case summaries. To explain this new feature, Mary Minow talks to two editors of Justia, Cicely Wilson and Courtney Minick.

Mary Minow: Tell us about the copyright case summaries that the Stanford Fair Use site will be offering to readers.

Cicely Wilson and Courtney Minick: We will send a feed of summaries for cases that involve copyright issues to the Fair Use site. The summaries themselves are short blurbs that describe the key issues and holdings of a particular case. They are designed to give the reader a sense of whether they need or want to read the case in its entirety. The summaries link to the full text of the opinion on the Justia site, and they are also displayed on the same page as the opinion. This way someone browsing or searching for caselaw on our site gets the benefit of the overview as well.

As the number of opinion summaries grow in this feed, it serves as a survey of sorts for copyright and fair use law — something that we hope will provide a lot of value as a free tool.

Minow: Who is writing the summaries?

Wilson and Minick: We have hired a team of experienced writers, all of whom are licensed attorneys, to write the summaries. They summarize the cases in a concise manner and tag the cases with relevant areas of law.

Minow: You’re saying that a private company has hired a team of attorneys to write case law summaries, and then make those summaries available to the public for free? Why would you do that?

Wilson and Minick: Great question, Mary. At Justia we believe we all “do well by doing good.”  To that end, one part of our core mission is to advance the availability of free legal resources on the web. The newsletter summaries fit in as a part of this by expanding access to the law and add value to the free primary law on our portal.

Minow: Any last words?

Wilson and Minick: Thanks Mary! We are very excited about this new product, and hope it will provide a lot value to lawyers, law librarians, and others who need to stay on top of legal developments. We are also looking forward to the addition of editorial information to our database of free legal opinions, as a way to help organize and contextualize the material.

Minow: By the way, who are the pugs?

Wilson and Minick: The pugs are our co-workers, Sheba and Belle!  You can see more of there Justia office adventures on their Facebook page.

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Conducted by Mary Minow and Eli Edwards, at ALA Midwinter Meeting in San Diego, California

Minow: Tell us about this major new step forward in the quest for open access.

Julia Blixrud: A part of the background for this effort was an author rights addendum that came out of work several years ago by SPARC, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. We worked with lawyers to develop a legal instrument that modifies the publisher’s agreement and allows authors to keep key rights to their articles.  How could authors amend their agreements to allow them to use their own work in the way they wanted to?

Ivy Anderson: That was for an individual author, which is different from content licensing.

Blixrud: At the time, we thought the best way to be able to get our authors’ content made freely accessible in libraries was for authors to say, “oh, wait I ought to retain some of my rights in order to be able to deposit and use my work in my environment.”

You see, a lot of authors get an agreement from a publisher and they just automatically sign it without reading it. The agreement basically says, we the publisher have all rights to do whatever we want with this article in perpetuity.

Which means that if you’re the author, and you want to reuse your own work, you may have to get permission.

Blixrud: Get permission, or pay some fees … and no one at your institution can do anything with your stuff either, unless they bought it and paid fees and so on.

The author addendum was the first attempt to get that content opened up and made available to the author herself as well as to the institution.

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