2013 and Beyond
The Nation Looks to the Next Great Copyright Act
In March 2013, Maria A. Pallante, the thirteenth Register of Copyrights, helped initate a comprehensive congressional review of U.S. copyright law, through her Horace S. Manges Lecture The Next Great Copyright Act. In it, she outlines her vision of a new copyright law, “forward thinking but flexible,” with sufficient clarity, and in all aspects in service of the public interest. Under the leadership of Register Pallante since her appointment in 2011, this ethos has guided the modernization of Copyright Office practice and continuing policy development and assistance to Congress.
In December 2014, the Copyright Office released the first comprehensive revision of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices in more than two decades. The Compendium serves as the Copyright Office’s governing administrative manual for registrations and recordations, and the revision presents more than 1,200 pages of practices and sets the stage for a number of long-term improvements. The Compendium, Third Edition can be found here.
In December 2015, the Copyright Office released its Strategic Plan for 2016-2020. The Strategic Plan, according to Register Pallante, “sets for a roadmap for re-envisioning almost all of the Copyright Office’s services. . . .to meet the changing needs of individual authors, entrepreneurs, the user community, and the general public.” Guided by six strategic goals focused on producing a nimble, results-driven, and future-focused government agency, the Copyright Office will implement the strategic plan to streamline internal operations, update public-facing capabilities, and continue to produce impartial expert assistance to Congress, executive branch agencies, the judiciary, and members of the copyright community at large. The Strategic Plan can be viewed here.
Register Pallante and the Copyright Office have worked diligently to provide Congress with relevant policy studies to inform the direction of copyright law in the 21st Century. The following studies have been delivered to Congress for its consideration:
- Orphan Works and Mass Digitization (June 2015)
- Copyright and the Music Marketplace (February 2015)
- Resale Royalties: An Updated Analysis (December 2013)
- Copyright Small Claims (September 2013)
- Federal Copyright Protection for Pre-1972 Sound Recordings (December 2011)
- Legal Issues in Mass Digitization: A Preliminary Analysis and Discussion Document (October 2011)
- Report on Marketplace Alternatives to Replace Statutory Licenses (August 2011)
In addition, the Copyright Office is actively developing new policy studies to provide expert advice to Congress as it considers revision of the copyright law. To view open policy studies and rulemaking as well as past rulemakings and reports, please visit the Law and Policy section of our website.
History of the Copyright Office
Copyright in the Courts
Supreme Court rules that first sale doctrine applies to lawfully made foreign works
March 19, 2013
In “Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.” the Supreme Court holds that the first sale doctrine applies to copyright works made lawfully in foreign countries.
The United States becomes a signatory to the Marrakesh Treaty
October 2, 2013
The United States becomes a signatory to the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled, which addresses both the domestic and cross border exchange of printed materials in accessible formats. The Treaty now awaits ratification by the U.S. Senate.
Supreme Court rules that online streaming services may be a public performance
June 25, 2014
The Supreme Court holds in “American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo” that Aereo’s service of providing online streaming to paying customers was a transmission of a work to the public.
Statutory license for satellite rebroadcasting is renewed
December 4, 2014
A new law extends until 2020 the statutory licensing for secondary transmissions of broadcast signals by satellite carriers.
U.S. Copyright Office Announces Strategic Plan for 2016-2020
December 1, 2015
The U.S. Copyright Office released its strategic plan, which presents six major goals covering technology, services, staffing, and administrative practice.
Supreme Court grants certiorari for suit involving useful articles
May 2, 2016
The Supreme Court grants the petition for certiorari to hear "Varsity Brands v. Star Athletica", to resolve question of the appropriate test to determine whether a feature of a useful article is protectable under copyright law.
Supreme Court clarifies attorney’s fees provisions under the Copyright Act
June 16, 2016
The Supreme Court holds in “Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.” that, when deciding whether to grant attorney’s fees under the Copyright Act, a court should give substantial weight to the objective reasonableness of the losing party’s position, while still taking into account a range of other considerations.