Copyright Trifecta in April 2016

Copyright Trifecta in April 2016

By Francis J. Gorman

The distressed and disjointed state of U.S. copyright law is highlighted by three copyright events this month.

First, on April 15, UB Law Professor William Hubbard hosted a top quality symposium on “Copyright Realignment” at which several panelists stated that infringement remedies are so limited and so costly that many owners do not challenge infringement. Other panelists called for overhaul of the copyright office, for registration improvements, and for revision of out-of-date copyright laws.

Second, on April 18, the Supreme Court let stand a circuit court decision that Google’s online library of more than 20 million books is “fair use,” even though the circuit court acknowledged that Google’s massive book copying and digitizing “can cause some loss of sales.” In other words, copyright damages with no remedy.

Third, as if in another world, the Copyright Office on April 26 will present a program to “celebrate creativity” in our interconnected world” and share thoughts about the value of copyright law in our digital age. Meanwhile, Congress has been holding an endless series of hearings on copyright law … while Rome burns.