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
    special-interesting (profile), 9 May 2013 @ 8:47am

    Why is the House Judiciary Committee involved with copyright reform? From the majority of these 'witnesses' the only consensus will be not in favor of cultural and public domain expansions. The unnecessary legal constraints upon the daily lives of ordinary citizens using normal ordinary appliances and or computers and or cell phones and or cameras (converging technologies?) ARE the problem.

    These very copyright laws have intruded upon everyday, every hour, lives in ways the Bill/Act sponsor's could/would/might never realize. It seems that every web page is a potential source for accusations based on downloading a picture or video clip.

    Worse is the monitoring of usage further eroding Privacy Rights. The default method of viewing a YouTube clip is that whenever one wanted to watch a clip they had to access the site. Digging in the web browser catch for a file transfer is classic but that would be prohibited if most firms could find a way to force/cough-up a few revenue dollars from the typical site user.

    Witness #1 Jon Baumgarten; Might probably want to appear impartial while framing 'cultural arresting' law/penalties/fines/taxes on the entire body of copyrighted material. This witness is most likely to be a drain on the various cultures of society.

    Witness #2 Laura N. Gasaway?; Board member of the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). A big broker of licenses. Great! Another industry insider to tell us how we need less culture and more loss to Public Domain Rights. Possibly in a direct but biased way.

    Witness #3; Daniel Gervais. Director of international relations at CCC, head of the Copyright Projects section of the WIPO, a panelist (domain name) at the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center. This person seems more like a hired copyright corporate gunslinger than anyone who would explain how culture, innovation and technological advancement is stunted by current copyright law.

    Witness #4; Pam Samuelson; interestingly critical of the role of copyright and economics and actually has some grasp of the cultural innovation of Public Domain Rights. This person is outnumbered 4:1. Possibly should be heading the entire committee. Someone with real world experience of the cultural damage current copyright law entails.

    Witness # 5;Jule Sigall; Info in Mike's article is better. How can a likely aggressive copyright expansion goaled firm's ex employees attitude differ from whom their future pension/retirement-income depends? Expecting a pro MS

    Prediction. Few good things will come out of this committee. When the chorus is full of monkeys how can we get anything but squeaks and grunts?

    What kind of 'witnesses' are these? In no way do they represent the people who will be affected by the outcome of this deliberation. Where are the people who want to sing/share Happy Birthday or harmless karaoke at their party of 100 friends?

    Where are the 'witnesses' to speak up about trying to share a book to several of their kids before they die? Or rewrite that same book using significant portions of the old?

    Where are the 'witnesses' to explain the disappointment and loss of culture when they cannot perform a Monty Python skit at the school play?

    Where are the exposed and hurt victims of the shameful area of copyright industry's “copyporn extortion”? The destroyed families whose lives were torn apart by some almost random layer threat and huge settlement payment.

    Where are the victims of web site seizures that was done with no warning and destroyed the culture surrounding those sites.

    Where are the artists and writer victims where they had derivative works denied or suppressed by current eternal copyright?

    Where is the average citizen represented in this group of people thats likely highly tilted toward copyright expansion and domination over culture and not the reverse where society and culture shape law. Law over culture rather than culture over law is not any sort of democratic rule.

    With such poor representation all we can do is sit on the sidelines and twiddle thumbs. Speculation is the best anyone can do. Its a bad position to be in that the only thing left is hope.


    Just because Pam Samuelson will be sitting around a table with the other 4 likely copyright expansionists it would be nice to listen in. The legitimate cultural, real world based arguments from Pam countered by the protectionist tinted whining about potentially loosing their eternal copyright monopoly would be fun?

    AC and Greevar; pointed out the obvious conflict between the Bern Convention and American Constitutional values. There are/have-been several treaties that try to outline and define 'Intellectual Property' but fail to further expand the Intellectual parts of Fair Use Rights.

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