Thursday, April 25, 2013

Better Goodlatte Than Never

On April 24, 2013, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, announced that his committee "will conduct a comprehensive review of U.S. copyright law over the coming months."  He cited changes in digital technology as a prime motivator for this overhaul.  As he stated in his press release,
There is little doubt that our copyright system faces new challenges today. The Internet has enabled copyright owners to make available their works to consumers around the world, but has also enabled others to do so without any compensation for copyright owners. Efforts to digitize our history so that all have access to it face questions about copyright ownership by those who are hard, if not impossible, to locate. There are concerns about statutory license and damage mechanisms. Federal judges are forced to make decisions using laws that are difficult to apply today. Even the Copyright Office itself faces challenges in meeting the growing needs of its customers – the American public. 
So it is my belief that a wide review of our nation’s copyright laws and related enforcement mechanisms is timely. I am announcing today that the House Judiciary Committee will hold a comprehensive series of hearings on U.S. copyright law in the months ahead. The goal of these hearings will be to determine whether the laws are still working in the digital age. I welcome all interested parties to submit their views and concerns to the Committee.

With passage of the America Invents Act, the United States' patent were comprehensively reformed in 2012.  Now, perhaps, it is copyright's turn.  Though three years too late to serve as a commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the Statute of Anne, few doubt that U.S. copyright law could be modernized and improved.