Copyright Office in 2017

What to Expect at the Copyright Office in 2017

By John M. DeBoer

Last month I discussed how the DMCA Agent program is undergoing a revamp that is intended to coincide with modernization of the Copyright Office.  At the end of December I was pleased to see further changes put on the table by the House Judiciary Committee.  In particular, the memo from Chairman Goodlatte stated:
“The 20th Century statutory framework for the U.S. Copyright Office is not sufficient to meet the needs of a modern 21st Century copyright system.”

And to think this insightful wisdom is only 16 years in the making!  Slow progress bests no progress I guess.  On the bureaucracy side of things, it looks like Congress will attempt to address ‘Copyright Office Structure’ and ‘Copyright Office Advisory Committees’.  This strikes me as something that will be a thankless task for a small group of people, and to what benefit it will be to rights holders is unclear.
On the other hand, upgrading the Copyright Office IT[1] and addressing small copyright claims are of great intrigue.  The ability to search copyright records and access deposit materials cannot come soon enough, although whether this is part of the IT upgrade or not remains a mystery at this point.  I can only imagine a day where you can drag and drop a digital photo (or other file type), and (assuming its deposited) find out the copyright owner information in an instant.
Giving the Register authority to promulgate rules and regulations related to small copyright claims is long overdue.  Service Providers (e.g., Google, Facebook, etc.) have reaped exacerbating monetary benefits on the backs of content owners for decades -- it’s time for content owners to have an avenue of recourse.  Alas, the CASE Act (H.R.5757), introduced to the House Judiciary in 2016, has gone nowhere.  Fingers crossed for action by Congress (no joke intended)!
John DeBoer is a registered patent attorney admitted with the Texas State Bar.  He is a Partner with Rao & DeBoer, a law firm in Houston, Texas specializing in intellectual property law. Contact John via Email.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rao DeBoer, PLLC, or any of its clients. All rights reserved.

[1] Indicated as a budget item of $165 million over 5 years