2017 marked the 10-Year Anniversary of the Copyright Alliance and was a year that had no shortage of copyright-related activities. As the new year is coming up, we’d like to look back on the various activities focused on our individual creators here at the Copyright Alliance which included submitting amicus briefs to inform courts on important copyright issues, advocating for two important bills in Congress, promoting Copyright Office modernization, and meeting face-to-face with our individual creators.
The Copyright Alliance regularly files amicus briefs to help courts understand the impact their rulings will have on individual creators beyond the parties in a lawsuit. The Copyright Alliance submitted six amicus briefs this year to the Ninth, Fourth, Second, and Federal Circuit Courts. In these briefs we argued, among other issues that have an impact on copyright protection for individual creators, against the resale of digital files, such as mp3s, and for denying a legal “pass” or immunity to states that engage in copyright infringement.
Bills in Congress
The Copyright Alliance also pushed for two, very important copyright bills throughout 2017. In mid-April we provided a briefing on Capitol Hill on the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (H.R. 1695). In short, this bill would make the Register of Copyrights a presidential appointee and provide flexibility to the Register of Copyrights to modernize the Copyright Office. Our CEO, Keith Kupferschmid, moderated the briefing which featured speakers from the National Press Photographers Association, Authors Guild, and Oracle who spoke on what the bill does and how it would benefit creators. Throughout the earlier months of 2017, Copyright Alliance continued to meet with Members of Congress and debunked some of the myths surrounding the legislation. Finally, in late April, the bill was passed by the House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote of 378 yeas to 48 nays. It currently is awaiting action in the Senate.
In addition to the Register Bill, there was another copyright bill on the Hill this year. The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2017 (CASE Act, H.R. 3945) was introduced in October by a bipartisan group of House Representatives. The bill would create a small-claims court that provides creators with an affordable and quick way of resolving copyright disputes. The creation of a small claims process to provide creators a remedy for their rights is one of the Copyright Alliance’s top priorities. In December, our staff went to Capitol Hill to ask various House Representatives to support this small-claims bill and to answer any questions about it. Though the bill remains in the House Judiciary Committee we hope to see it advance swiftly through Congress in the new year. The best way to make that happen is for individual creators to ask their Representatives to support the Small Claims Bill/H.R. 3945. We also created videos and blogs that explain the bill for anyone who would like more information.
Modernizing the Copyright Office
While copyright registration is not necessary—since copyright protection occurs the moment a work is created—it can provide important legal benefits for creators, such as being able to seek statutory damages and attorneys fees in a lawsuit. But as many creators who have registered their works know, the Copyright Office’s registration system can be frustrating, burdensome, and costly.
The Copyright Alliance worked hard this past year to continue pushing for modernization of the Copyright Office. We filed comments on updates to regulations for group registration of photographs, unpublished works, and newspapers. We worked with Congressional appropriators, including testifying in front of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, to ensure the Copyright Office has the budget and autonomy needed to make its systems more effective, easy to use, and affordable. And we continue to support legislative efforts, like H.R. 1695/The Register Bill (mentioned above), that will provide the Copyright Office with the tools it needs to operate a 21st century copyright system.
Connecting with Individual Creators
The Copyright Alliance also connected with various individual creator members from all over the country. We met with photographers, visual artists, and other creators at Imaging USA in January and at the Digital Media Licensing Association’s Conference in October to connect them with the different resources and information that are available on our website. Later in June, our CEO, Keith Kupferschmid met with video creators as he moderated the panel, What Every Successful Creator Needs to Know About Copyright at the 8th Annual Vidcon. The panel focused on how video creators can make videos, attract subscribers, protect their content, and prevent themselves from accidentally infringing on someone else’s work all through understanding and using copyright law. Video creators also submitted their questions for a Q&A session at the end of the panel.
Throughout the year, we also published various informative blog posts, new Ask the Alliance posts, educational “Copybites” videos, and fun Creator Spotlight posts featuring our talented creator members. Additionally, our site features new resources like the DMCA Directory for creators and the Find A Copyright Owner page. Please check out our website to learn more about our organization, its activities, copyright law, and how you can become more involved. Happy Holidays, and we look forward to spending another year with our individual creators!