Tuesday 19 March 2013

More legal protection for artists?

The director of the United States Copyright Office, Maria A. Pallante, has called for the U.S. Copyright Law to be updated.

In a statement to the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Committee on the Judicary, Pallante has submitted that the current law, the majority of which was enacted way back in 1976, is outdated and no longer provides effective protection to authors of copyright works.

Pallante says:
It is both possible and necessary to have a copyright law that combines safeguards for free expression, guarantees of due process, mechanisms for access, and respect for intellectual property.
To this end, I would like to state something that I hope is uncontroversial. The issues of authors are intertwined with the interests of the public. As the first beneficiaries of the copyright law, they are not a counterweight to the public interest but instead are at the very center of the equation. In the words of the Supreme Court, "[t]he immediate effect of our copyright law is to secure a fair return for an 'author's' creative labor. But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good." Congress has a duty to keep authors in its mind's eye, including songwriters, book authors, filmmakers, photographers, and visual artists. A law that does not provide for authors would be illogical — hardly a copyright law at all.
Pallante also points out that Congress will not need to start from scratch, as it has already laid the groundwork for many of the core issues, with reports in progress on a number of topics including resale royalties for visual artists.

Pallante's statement will no doubt raise a lot of debate in both the IP community as well as the art community. It is unlikely, however, that we will see any immediate effects.

Pallante's full statement can be found here.

Commentary from the Copyright Alliance here.

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