Skip to main content

Register of Copyrights: Authors Are at Center of Public Interest

Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante plans to put in a plug
for content producers in her testimony March 20 at a House Judiciary
Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet hearing on the
call for update to U.S. copyright law.

Saying she hoped the point would not prove controversial,
Pallante said that authors "are not a counterweight to the public interest
but instead are at the very center of the equation."

And by authors, she explained, she meant filmmakers, visual
artists, and other content producers whose creative output copyright law
protects. "Congress has a duty to keep authors in its mind's eye,"
she planned to tell Congress. "A law that does not provide for authors
would be illogical -- hardly a copyright law at all."

Among the issues teed up for congressional action include
reviewing the "efficacy" of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
(DMCA) and updating the framework for cable and satellite transmissions (which
Judiciary will be taking up in the reauthorization of the Satellite Television
Extension and Localism Act).

Pallante says the control of copyright owners should not be
absolute, and suggests some possible changes including allowing for works to
revert to the public domain in life-plus-50 years (it is currently
life-plus-20 years
unless an heir or successor registers it with the Copyright Office, or "in
compelling circumstances...reverse the general principle of copyright law that copyright
owners should grant prior approval for the reproduction and dissemination of
their works  -- for example, by requiring
copyright owners to object or "opt out" in order to prevent certain uses,
whether paid or unpaid, by educational institutions or libraries."