House Judiciary Committee Sets Up First Hearing On Copyright Reform

from the and-away-we-go dept

With comprehensive copyright reform back on the table in the US, and with Rep. Bob Goodlatte looking to lead the process, he's hosting the first House Judiciary Committee hearings on the matter, with the initial focus focused on finding consensus. They're starting with five witnesses, all of whom participated in the Copyright Principles Project, which we wrote about a few years ago when it came out. At the time, we wondered if anyone would pay attention to it, so it's actually great to see that it's front and center in this discussion.

That document -- which was put together by a wide variety of folks from different backgrounds -- looked at 25 possible areas for reform. All five witnesses participated in the process:
  • Jon Baumgarten, retired Proskauer Rose attorney and former General Counsel of the U.S. Copyright Office (noted litigator on copyright matters including music and movie issues)
  • Laura Gasaway, Professor, University of North Carolina Law School and co-chair of the Section 108 Study Group (libraries)
  • Daniel Gervais, Director, Vanderbilt Law School Intellectual Property Program (international issues)
  • Pam Samuelson, Professor, University of California at Berkeley Law School (convenor of the CPP and copyright law scholar)
  • Jule Sigall, Assistant General Counsel for Copyright, Microsoft and former Associate Register for Policy and International Affairs of the U.S. Copyright Office (tech)
Having Samuelson on the list is the key one, as she was the driving force behind the project and is one of, if not the most, knowledgeable folks concerning copyright issues around. I recognize that any copyright reform process could go seriously off the rails once certain lobbyists go crazy over it, but I'm going to take an optimistic approach here and hope for the best. Starting from this position with the folks who were involved in this process is a good place to start, though we'll see where it goes from here.

Filed Under: bob goodlatte, copyright, copyright principles project, copyright reform, daniel gervais, house judiciary committee, jon baumgarten, jule sigall, laura gasaway, pam samuelson

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  1. icon
    Greevar (profile), 9 May 2013 @ 6:25am

    Congress shall make no law...

    "...respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    I think, just on this basis, the copyright act is in violation of the constitution (No Anonymous Shills, Article 1 Section 8 doesn't make it universally legal, it only grants the power so long as it promotes the progress and the complete bankruptcy of the public domain clearly demonstrates its failure to promote the progress). The courts have ruled "No law, means no law." So I don't see how a law that is censorship of speech at its very core is even allowable given the first amendment and court cases upholding that standard. But I guess we Americans are just fine and dandy with the idea of giving up civil liberties when it comes to our addiction to money and ownership.

    How do I know it's censorship of speech? Any time you express an idea, it's speech. Art of every kind expresses ideas. If you don't believe me, go out and find an image, audio, video, game, or text and try to tell me that it didn't put any ideas in your head. There's no media out there that doesn't disseminate information to the viewer and that means that it is speech by definition. And by supporting copyright of any kind, you support the idea that some people can have the right to say things that others cannot. This is no different than prohibiting people from being allowed to speak dissent against their government.

    Going against copyright triggers the most base emotional reaction because copyright has been so fundamentally tied to the concept of property, even those that have no personal stake in copyright will defend it to their last, because they don't want their perception of property rights shattered. So much so, that speaking against copyright is a personal insult to anyone that has an attachment to their concept of property. It's the same reaction you get when an atheist denies the existence of gods. It's a deep personal and emotional issue. If you broach that topic, be prepared for an emotionally charged and irrational assault from those that have so strongly internalized the concept.

    So, I have to ask. Do we really want to abridge our freedom of speech so that corporations can say things that we are prohibited from? Do we want them to have speech that we don't? They don't deserve it. Speech should be free and open to everyone. It's our natural right to communicate with others in any way we choose and corporate profits should never be at the center of discussion when justifying the violation of that right is brought up. Freedom of speech is only to be limited in the sense that exercising it doesn't infringe on the civil rights of others. I have to say that copyright is fundamentally wrong and it's a violation of my, yours, and every other American's natural rights to allow it to exist.

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