US Register of Copyrights proposes shorter terms

April 2013

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US Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante has said that copyright law is showing the strain of its age and requires the attention of Congress commenting “a central equation for Congress to consider is what does and does not belong under a copyright owner’s control in the digital age. I do not believe that the control of copyright owners should be absolute, but it needs to be meaningful. People around the world increasingly are accessing content on mobile devices and fewer and fewer of them will need or desire the physical copies that were so central to the 19th and 20th century copyright laws.”


Pallante has proposed that the US government shorten copyright terms saying “You may want to consider alleviating some of the pressure and gridlock brought about by the long copyright term for example, by reverting works to the public domain after a period of life plus fifty years unless heirs or successors register their interests with the Copyright Office” – although Pallante is still suggesting that copyright owners be allowed the current life-plus-seventy term if they ask for it. Bit she argues that the purpose of copyright law is to stimulate the production of new creative works, and it’s not at all clear that your average performer or artist is behaving any differently because they’re granted so many decades of exclusive rights.

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