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Hollywood praises copyright bill, but is it good for business?

Hollywood does not always get the best reputation when it comes to looking out for the needs of the rest of the country. Although many enjoy the creative offerings of this industry, from music to movies, few can relate with their business models.

This likely leads many in the business world to be skeptical of a recent bill proposal that would impact the Copyright Office that is receiving support from many of the business leaders in Hollywood.

What exactly is the copyright office? The Copyright Office is tasked with the responsibility of administering the complex laws outlined in the 1976 Copyright Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The head of this office, referred to as the Register of Copyrights, is the "principal advisor to Congress on national and international copyright matters."

Those who work in this office oversee the registration of hundreds of thousands of copyright claims. The Copyright Office processed 468,000 claims in 2016 alone. This includes claims for protections for books, music, sound records, photographs and other original works.

What is the benefit of a copyright? Copyrights are a valuable legal tool for certain forms of intellectual property within the business world. If approved and registered correctly, a copyright can provide the owner with protection against third party use of the material.

If a third party attempts to use material that is protected by a copyright, the owner has some recourse. This can include demanding an injunction (or stop) against continued use as well as a financial settlement if the third party experienced monetary gain as a result of the use.

Is there need for reform? Critics of the current system argue that it is dated and needs modernization. One particular area that is under fire is the process used for appointing the Register of Copyrights. Currently, the system allows the Librarian of Congress to make an appointment for this position.

What is the new proposal? The new proposal was introduced in Congress on March 23, 2017. It would shift the authority to appoint the head of the United States Copyright Office away from the Librarian of Congress to the president. This would allow the president to nominate an appointment and the Senate to confirm.

Those in support of the proposal state that it would allow the American people and other interested parties the ability to have input in the position through their elected officials. Representatives from Virginia, Michigan, Iowa, California and Vermont issued a joint statement with the introduction of the bill, noting that if the proposal passes it will allow increased transparency to the office as well as the added level of accountability that comes with Congressional involvement.

Those in favor of the bill include a number of industry leaders in Hollywood. Deadline, a news source focused on providing updates on news events that impact those in business in Hollywood, reports that both the Directors Guild of America and the Motion Picture Association of America have endorsed the bill.

Will the bill become reality, and if so how will it impact businesses outside of Hollywood? It is unclear whether the bill will get passed or not. However, the bipartisan nature and current support are promising.

If it is passed, the transparency and accountability offered by the bill may provide benefits to both Hollywood industries and those who operate outside of the bright lights.

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  • NYSBA
  • Brooklyn Bar Association 1872 Justice Integrity Honor Courtesy
  • National Italian American Bar Association Representing The Italian American Legal Community
  • Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn
  • Columbian Lawyers Association of Rockland County
  • The Copyright Society of the USA
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