The American Law Institute (ALI) is a century-old independent organization that produces and publishes scholarly works, including “Restatements of the Law,” which are intended to provide guidance to judges by summarizing and clarifying court decisions across U.S. states. ALI has no formal legal authority. However, its Restatements are used frequently by attorneys and cited by judges – and therefore play a significant role in shaping court decisions.
The ALI has undertaken an initiative called the Copyright Restatement Project, which – if completed – would “restate copyright law.” Numerous concerns have been expressed regarding the project including those shared by U.S. Register of Copyrights Karyn Temple, who sent a letter to the American Law Institute in MO/YEAR. In the letter, Register Temple wrote that the Institute’s project “appears to create a pseudo-version of the Copyright Act” and urged it to reconsider the entire initiative. A copy of Register Temple’s letter can be found here.
And on December 3, 2019, Congress sent a letter to the ALI, sharing its questions and serious concerns about the project. According to the letter, which was signed by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Representatives Ben Cline (R-VA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Martha Roby (R-AL) and Harley Rouda (D-CA), “…courts should rely upon statutory text and legislative history, not [on] Restatements that attempt to replace the statutory language and legislative history established by Congress with novel interpretation.”
In addition to Congress and the Copyright Office, others have also expressed concern over the past years – including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the American Bar Association’s IP Law Section, numerous academics and federal judge, and ALI advisors, liaisons and council members.
Additional letters, statements, blogs, opinion pieces and media coverage regarding the Copyright Restatement Project can be found directly below: