I’m happy to announce that my article, Copyright Reform Step Zero, has just been published in volume 19, issue 2, of the journal Information & Communications Technology Law. I’m especially happy since this is my first published article. You can find the article at http://www.informaworld.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=1360-0834&volume=19&issue=2&spage=147; I have a pre-print version on my ‘about me’ page for those who don’t have access to the journal.
Take a moment to think of all the purposes copyrighted works fulfill: entertainment, art, culture, knowledge, teaching, information, communications, etc. Now factor in how rapid technological changes can shift the balance of power between stakeholders almost over night. Crafting copyright policy that takes all that into consideration is a huge challenge. My article proposes one way which may more effectively meet that challenge.
The abstract reads:
‘A reasonable person might well think it’s a fool’s errand to contemplate a [copyright] reform project of any sort.’ The US Copyright Act of 1976 and its subsequent amendments is contained in over 200 pages of incomprehensible, sometimes inconsistent, and highly technical provisions. Attempts to reform this law are doomed from the start. They are doomed not because they lack merit, but because of the way copyright law is made. This article argues that before any meaningful copyright reform is passed, the institutional framework that makes copyright law must be changed. It proposes delegating substantive rulemaking authority to the US Copyright Office as part of that change. The article explores the benefits and drawbacks to this approach and concludes that without the type of institutional reform envisioned by this proposal, copyright law will continue to become increasingly unable to keep up with technological and other challenges while also becoming increasingly resistant to reform efforts.
Since finishing the article several months ago, I’ve noted a few developments that continue this theme of a movement toward wholesale copyright reform and the challenges any reform effort faces. For starters, in June 2010, IP Czar Victoria Espinel released the first Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement, as directed by the PRO-IP Act – illustrating the priority that the federal government has placed on coordinating agency efforts to enforce intellectual property. Outside groups continue to push for their own versions of reform; in February 2010, Public Knowledge announced the start of its Copyright Reform Act project. Finally, Copyrights and Campaigns author Ben Sheffner asked, Is it time to completely reform US copyright law? – getting to the heart of the institutional roadblocks of copyright reform efforts that I address in my article.