As changes take place in the intellectual property landscape due to advances in technology and other factors, the U.S. Copyright Office must periodically revise its approach to protecting creative works. Recently, the agency outlined a strategic plan designed to bring the office into the 21st century, both in terms of its ability to protect intellectual property and its creators and in terms of the ways in which the office’s customers and the public can access information about copyrights and copyrighted materials.
In outlining its plan, the office set out six strategic goals it hopes to implement by 2020:
- Continue to be an effective, efficient administrator of U.S. copyright laws, to the benefit of both creators and the general public.
- Improve the ease with which all interested parties are able to access and search copyright records.
- Provide its expertise to the three branches of government to settle questions of copyright law and related policies.
- Provide a steady and reliable stream of information, educational programs and other resources to members of the public.
- Make substantial improvements to the technology that serves the Copyright Office and those with whom it interacts.
- Step up its recruitment efforts to ensure it integrates the best legal, technology and business minds into the office’s team, while also improving training and development practices.
In addition, throughout 2015, the office evaluated some specific areas in which modernization efforts will be necessary to adapt to the changing ways in which intellectual property law affects both its creators and the marketplace. These efforts have included:
- The establishment of the Fair Use Index, a resource that allows interested parties to better access judicial documents related to the fair use doctrine.
- The Orphan Works and Mass Digitation Study, which attempts to find solutions to licensing issues involving works for which copyright owners cannot be determined.
- A study of the current system of music licensing, in an attempt to modernize and simplify what is currently a complex system.
- A proposed resale royalty to be paid to visual artists.
- The proposed establishment of a Copyright Office Tribunal to handle small copyright infringement claims and relieve the federal court system of that burden.
- An investigation of the potential benefits of bringing pre-1972 sound recordings under the purview of the federal copyright system, which the office concluded would benefit the public as well as library and archive systems.
With changes in technology happening all the time and having considerable impact on the ways in which intellectual property is created, disseminated and used, the Copyright Office believes that efforts like its strategic plan will be necessary in bringing copyright law in line with present day conditions. The office remains committed to making necessary adjustments to its practices, and to advising the government on matters involving intellectual property.
BoltNagi is an established and respected intellectual property law firm serving clients throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.