Did The RIAA Really Just Come Out In Support Of 'Opt-In' Copyright? [Updated]
from the that-would-be-big dept
Here’s some potentially big news. The RIAA, who has always appeared to be in favor of ever expanded copyright, may actually be changing its mind. Two separate reports out of the National Academies’ meeting on “the impact of copyright policy on innovation” note that RIAA president Cary Sherman apparently stated that he now believes an opt-in registration “formalities” approach to copyright might make sense. Derek Slater, on Twitter, summarized Sherman’s statement as:
“my opinion is that pre-Berne system, requiring some sort of registration, makes more sense today.”
Of course, the MPAA and the BSA apparently disagreed, with the BSA saying copyright should definitely be opt-out rather than opt-in. That said, it is nice to see the MPAA come out in favor of flexible fair use policies, though I’m sure that’s as an alternative to actually improving copyright law.
I’ve asked the RIAA for comment (updated below) on whether or not this represents a change of position for them, and whether the group would now support an opt-in copyright system that only gives copyright to works that are formally registered (as we had for many, many years). If true, this would really be a huge deal. While an opt-in system has many problems, if set up properly, it’s a lot better than the current opt-out system, which obliterated the public domain. An opt-in system at least makes it much easier to feed the public domain.
Update: The RIAA responded to my request as to whether or not this was a policy change, in response, I was told:
His basic point (and I’m quoting from his remarks) was that “we need better ways to distinguish when copyright is a beneficial property right, and when copyright is a meaningless and unwanted right.” He was later asked what he meant by this, and he responded that it may be time for creators to affirmatively assert copyright, rather than have it automatically granted to them whether they want it or not. He also explained that this was a personal view, not an RIAA position.
The note also pointed out, correctly that there really “is no way to opt-out” of copyright today. So, while it’s not the official RIAA position, I’m still really surprised that Sherman would feel this way, but kudos to him for making a statement that would seem at odds with the RIAA’s standard position on copyright.