Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced Wednesday the committee will conduct a comprehensive review of US copyright law in the coming months.
“The goal of these hearings will be to determine whether the laws are still working in the digital age,” Goodlatte said during his opening remarks at World IP Day in Washington DC. Goodlatte cited as problems such things as distribution of digital goods without compensation for copyright owners, “concerns about the statutory license” and Federal judges’ decisions made using laws “that are difficult to apply today.” “There is much work to be done,” he said.
Industry insiders have been expecting Goodlatte to hold hearings on copyright reform. The Judiciary Committee signaled its intentions last month when Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante appeared last month before the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet to urge Congress to consider passing what she called “the next great copyright act.” Pallante singled out a number of issues pertinent to the music business such as a performance right for sound recordings, the DMCA safe harbors, orphan works and statutory damages.
The National Music Publisher’s Association welcomed the announcement and encouraged the country to address the many issues that merit updating. “I applaud Chairman Goodlatte for his commitment to explore the complex issues around copyright law and the digital age, and hope hearings address the challenges songwriters, music publishers and other creators face in today’s digital marketplace,” said President and CEO David Israelite.
Congress has a great deal of work to complete in a relatively short period of time. Goodlatte took over as Chairman in January and has a six-year limit as the head of the Judiciary Committee. Copyright reform would be passed to the next Chairman if legislation were not passed during Goodlatte’s tenure.