It's pretty much evolve or die in the photography business. You've got to have the latest and greatest gear, keep up with current trends and establish a fluid online presence. So when you're out there working hard to stay current, shouldn't the laws that serve to protect you be up to date as well?
People in Maria Pallante's world sometimes call The Copyright Act of 1976 "the new law," but that's hardly how she sees it. And as the U.S. Register of Copyrights, she's requesting the makeover on Capitol Hill.
The copyright laws currently in place, which determine what can be copyrighted and by whom, how fair use works, who can be sued for infringement and for how much, are out of date. Basically, "the new law" isn't cutting it anymore. Nor is the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, passed 15 years ago, in 1998. The internet moves a little too fast for that act to be relevant.
So Ms. Pallante's getting to work for you! She has twice called for "the next Great Copyright Act" to be drafted and passed by Congress, and now Ms. Pallante has someone in her corner (other than PPA and its members, of course). Representative Robert Goodlatte, Dem. 6th District of Virginia, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, recently announced his committee would conduct a "comprehensive review" of the existing copyright statute.
We don't know what these new laws might look like, but with these two going to bat for you, there's reason to get excited. Plus, a few hints were made as to what the Copyright Office and Judiciary Committee are looking for in their review:
- To make the laws easy to understand and balance the needs of creators and content users so they can communicate effectively.
- To bring the law into the 21st Century! While the laws have been "tweaked" on occasion, the last major update to the existing statute was completed in the mid-1970s. Yikes!
- To provide copyright owners with effective and accessible enforcement tools. Sort of like PPA's copyright resources. We're such trend-setters!
- To keep it simple! The Copyright Office needs to be able to apply the laws to real scenarios, like registration requirements and processes, without needing to seek Congress's approval.
We certainly don't expect the new law to be crafted overnight, but at the same time, we sure hope it doesn't take decades like the act of 1976, so we're staying staying tuned-in to this one! After the Judiciary Committee's review, the process likely will move on to a series of hearings, roundtables, requests for "studies", and public comment periods. Through it all PPA will make sure photographers have a seat at the table when it comes to shaping the future statute.