"The copyright issue relates to so-called “orphan works.” As a consequence of many factors — the absurdly long term of copyright protection [life of the author plus 70 years — see my comments here on the liberation of Sherlock Holmes, after a lo-o-ong time, from his copyright shackles], along with the elimination of copyright notice, or copyright registration, requirements as preconditions for copyright protection — there are literally millions upon millions of works — books, letters, songs, articles, poems . . . — created in the ’30s, ’40s, or ’50s that are (a) still protected by copyright, and for which (b) it is virtually impossible to ascertain who owns the copyright, or even whether the copyright is still in force... The solution is pretty obvious — a true legislative no-brainer: Amend the Copyright Act to eliminate statutory damages for these orphan works. Surely even Congress can see how idiotic it is that this class of invisible rights holders can keep this treasure trove of information out of the public’s hands, and there has indeed been significant movement recently (including a Copyright Office proposal to this effect) toward just such a change. So what does all this have to do with the TPP? I’m glad you asked. It appears that the latest version of the treaty contains, buried within its many hundreds of pages, language that could require the U.S. to scuttle its plans for a sensible revision of this kind.[I say that this “appears” to be the case, because, of course, the text of the TPP has not been revealed to the public, so all we have are leaked versions appearing from time to time on WikiLeaks.]... These (and other — poke around at the KEI site for more evidence) copyright provisions in the TPP are pretty dreadful and continue the disturbing trend of making copyright bigger, longer and stronger just when public policy demands the opposite... [And as an ironic footnote to all this, part of the reason we’re in all this mess, as I mentioned at the start, is that we no longer have a sensible regime for copyright notice and copyright registration. Why don’t we? Because of another international agreement, the Berne Convention on Literary Property, that we acceded to in 1989 (and which prohibits all “copyright formalities).”] We would have been much, much better off on our own on that one."
Saturday, September 5, 2015
In a dark corner of the Trans-Pacific Partnership lurks some pretty nasty copyright law; Washington Post, 9/3/15
David Post, Washington Post; In a dark corner of the Trans-Pacific Partnership lurks some pretty nasty copyright law: