What’s New

In January 2019, the U.S. Copyright Office completed a public inquiry and sent to Congress a letter entitled “Copyright and Visual Works: The Legal Landscape of Opportunities and Challenges.”  OWE’s Linda Joy Kattwinkel, who submitted comments to the Copyright Office in 2015 when this effort began, is one of just a handful of individuals mentioned in the letter by name.  You can read her letter here.

She also participated in comments submitted by the Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) where she serves as advocacy counsel.  According to Linda Joy, the timing of the letter seems to be coordinated with the Copyright Office’s new efforts re modernization and attempts to revive legislation to establish a copyright small claims process. For more information on these issues see her recent post:  2019 Will Be a Big Year for Copyrights

Here’s what the Copyright Office is saying about the letter to Congress and the results of their three-year-long public inquiry:

“The U.S. Copyright Office has submitted a letter to Congress detailing the results of the Office’s public inquiry on how certain visual works, particularly photographs, graphic artworks, and illustrations, are registered, monetized, and enforced under the Copyright Act of 1976. The Office sought commentary on the marketplace for these visual works, as well as observations regarding the real or potential obstacles that creators and users of visual works face when navigating the digital landscape. A number of stakeholders raised specific issues they face on a regular basis regarding current copyright law and practices that fall within three general categories: (1) difficulties with the registration process; (2) challenges with licensing generally and monetizing visual works online; and (3) general enforcement obstacles. 

The Copyright Office takes these concerns seriously and has already taken steps to address them where it can, most notably with the ongoing Office modernization efforts in preparation for a wholesale technological upgrade to the Office’s systems. In other areas, the Office finds that legislative action is the best solution. The Office continues to strongly support the idea of a small copyright claims tribunal, as well as a legislative solution to the orphan works conundrum. Congress’ action in these two areas would go far to alleviate several important concerns raised by visual artists.   The letter, public comments, and background material are available on the Copyright Office website at https://www.copyright.gov/policy/visualworks/.”


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