Judge Miriam Hall Patel, who among other things, is known for her decision that effectively killed off Napster (which I still believe interpreted copyright law incorrectly, and put the liability on the wrong party... but that's another post). Apparently, Patel has also been spending some time thinking about how to repair copyright. She gave a speech this week at Fordham Law, where she laid out the details of her plan
that are certainly... different. The idea would basically be to establish a hybrid public-private entity that would effectively determine everything
having to do with music and copyright. If this makes you cringe, you're not alone.
On the good side, the suggestion includes the idea to wipe out the massive patchwork set of copyright royalty and licensing rules that are so much of the problem today. Every time some new technology comes along, we end up with yet another new patch on copyright law, making it so that it's nearly impossible these days to do much of anything with music without having to hire a lawyer to figure out which six or twelve different stakeholders you'll have to pay.
But, that's about all that's good here. Everything else looks like it's setting up a huge bureaucracy (the fact that it would be a mix of public and private representatives is rather meaningless) that would effectively decide everything
having to do with music. There would be compulsory blanket licensing, and you would have to apply for a special exemption to get out of it.
Then there's the ugly part. She would require any new device manufacturers or application developers to get approval from this new body before creating any new products. Yes, she wants to create a board to approve new innovations and determine what is and what is not allowed. This should scare pretty much everyone. That's not how innovation works, and any such plan would basically move all innovation in the industry outside of the US, allowing everyone else to leapfrog us quite quickly.
It's great that people are trying to come up with out-of-the-box ideas, but this one, perhaps needs a bit more time marinating in the box.