While a person doesn’t need to register their work with the Copyright Office to receive copyright protection, registration provides significant benefits when copyright owners need to enforce their rights against infringers.
“But our current registration system is a two-tiered system,” says California Western’s New Media Rights (NMR) Executive Director Art Neill. “It benefits large copyright holders with deep pockets, but can be complicated, expensive, and time-consuming for individuals who produce a lot of works like video creators, bloggers, podcasters and more.”
On Jan. 15, NMR filed comments with the Copyright Office requesting modernization of the online copyright registration process to level the playing field.
The comments were filed in response to the Notice of Inquiry issued by the U.S. Copyright Office on October 17, 2018, addressing several of the Subjects of Inquiry with regards to modernizing the copyright registration process.
NMR argues that efforts to modernize the registration system have to focus on better meeting the needs of the individuals and entities that produce video content today, with an eye toward building a system that can adapt as video production and distribution continue to evolve.
Part of this modernization process should include permitting group registration of published videos, fixing current issues that exist with the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO) registration system, and enhancing the ability of copyright holders and users to find and identify copyright owners using the Copyright Public Records Catalog.
Two California Western students interning with NMR, Alexandra Inman (3L) and Brittany Hernandez (2L) helped research and draft the comments.
"I really enjoyed working on the comments,” said Inman. “It gave me the opportunity to do policy work and respond to a very real problem by using the legal education I have been receiving at California Western. I felt that it was an honor to be given the opportunity as a fellow at New Media Rights and that the assignment really challenged me in a fun and exciting way.”
NMR’s comments divide into three parts.
Part I addresses key problems with the current prohibition on group registration of published videos and compares online video creation with currently acceptable works for published group registration.
Part II focuses on the digital copyright registration itself, identifies specific interface issues and proposes solutions, where appropriate, with the goal of clarifying registration requirements and aligning the language of the registration application with statutory language.
Part III addresses the usefulness of the public copyright record for future creators.
Read NMR’s complete comments here.
About New Media Rights: New Media Rights is an independently funded program of California Western School of Law, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. It is a program that provides preventative, one-to-one legal services to creators, entrepreneurs, and internet users whose projects require specialized internet, intellectual property, privacy, media, and communications law expertise. https://www.newmediarights.org.