Change on the Horizon: The Copyright Office Announces New Projects and Priorities
In late October, the Copyright Office announced the priorities and special projects it will be focusing on in the near future. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante described seventeen priorities and ten projects that will be explored over the next two years. The text of the Register’s paper can be accessed at www.copyright.gov/docs/priorities.pdf.
Numerous priorities in copyright policy were introduced, including rogue websites, orphan works, illegal streaming, and others. The Copyright Office also announced a study of alternative resolution methods for “infringement claims with “limited amounts of monetary relief.” The Copyright Office noted that the cost of federal litigation has increased (see its 2006 Statement of the United States Copyright Office before the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, Committee on the Judiciary here: http://www.copyright.gov/docs/regstat032906.html). What has yet to be seen is how many infringement claims are not pursued due to cost-prohibitive litigation. The Registrar’s paper further requests recommendations for “administrative, regulatory and statutory authority” that can be used as an alternative to cost-prohibitive copyright infringement litigation. Links to a description of this priority can be found at http://www.copyright.gov/docs/smallclaims/, where members of the public can also submit ideas by January 16, 2012.
Amongst the priorities in administrative law practice, the Register discussed registration options for blogs and other rapidly evolving websites. Blogs may have multiple contributors that update website content daily, or even hourly. The Copyright Office is currently exploring registration options for this kind of content. Currently, the Office is exploring if there should be a group filing that covers all content generated within a specific time period (perhaps a duration of a few days or weeks). Also of interest is the type of deposit necessary to secure a copyright for blog content. According to the Register’s paper, the Copyright Office is seeking public content, and plans to make a decision in 2012.
Under the proposed projects, the Copyright Office website is facing an overhaul. The redesign is focused on improving navigation and organization of the website, and there are plans to add multimedia resources to assist registrants. The Office is also planning on streamlining the registration process; it is currently consulting with business and information technology experts to determine ways to improve the registration interface, as well as what information and deposits should be captured under this new registration system. The Copyright Office plans to do the majority of work to the website during 2012, while changes to the registration process will be discuss over the next 18 months.
The priorities and projects described in this post barely scratch the surface of the Copyright Office’s agenda for the next two years, which can be read in full in the Register’s paper linked above. The wide range of topics seems squarely set on addressing issues that arise with the growth of technology and the Internet. I expect copyright practitioners of all kinds will have a particular interest in the much-needed upgrade to the online registration process, as well as the proposed alternative resolution systems for small copyright infringement claims. Next year will certainly be an interesting one for the Copyright Office.