U.S. Republican Study Committee Releases Progressive Copyright Document Only To Withdraw Hours Later

The story of the weekend was the publication by the U.S. Republican Study Committee of a progressive report on copyright, only to withdraw the paper hours later (coverage from Techdirt (1, 2), Volokh Conspiracy, the American Conservative, Politico, CNET, and Macleans). The paper – which can still be found online – identifies several copyright myths and contains several notable proposed reforms including expanding fair use, reforming U.S. statutory damages rules, creating copyright misuse penalties, and limiting copyright terms. 

Interestingly, Canada has already begun to move in this direction with Bill C-11, which reformed statutory damages and created a non-commercial user generated content provision. Moreover, Canadian law features a shorter copyright term than that found in the U.S.  Given the rush to take the paper down, the fear is that even modest reform recommendations face opposition from copyright lobby groups, who exert enormous influence with U.S. politicians. As Canada jumps into the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations in the next few weeks, Canadian copyright reforms will undoubtedly face tough scrutiny as the U.S. pressures us to undo many positive reforms and make further changes that the Canadian government previously concluded did not strike a reasonable balance.

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  1. Good on the GOP for thinking candidates …
    I see one of two things taking place in the next 20 years:

    1) As current (or potential) candidates who are currently under 30 move into the political sphere of influence they will be able to make changes that reflect the current views and practices of society.


    2) Big money will continue to corrupt as usual.

    It seems the latter is still in force today, let’s continue to hope for the future.

  2. Ray Saintonge says:

    This is certainly a progressive step by the republicans.

    It’s puzzling that the report seems to believe that copyright renewals are still a part of US law. It was a positive and unique aspect of US copyright law, but it was abandoned as a condition of the US signing on to the Berne Convention in favour of a life-plus-years automatic system.

    The graduated renewal proposal is interesting, but there is an important flaw that would need to be addressed. What would be the fee to renew a copyright on a work with minimal or low sales? I can easily imagine a situation where a company would want to retain copyrights on an older version to keep it off the market where it would compete with a newer version.

  3. And in other news, public pressure does make a difference …

    C-30 redux, USA style. Good to see both sides of the border can stand against really bad ideas in legislation. This is why I have hope that progressive ideas such as presented by the GOP committee may one day get a foothold.

  4. I hope that everyone that frequents this blog already saw this video:

    But in case you haven’t, the first part is again reinforced by this weekend’s events.

    The good thing though is that it shows that there IS a younger generation out there, that is aware of these issues, and that at one point is going to take over. We can only hope they are not corrupted by the previous generation.

    Regarding the proposals, giving a blanket copyright term extension to EVERYTHING until 2024 is of course ridiculous. Don’t forget: term extensions were retroactive, robbing society of value with no compensation, so there is no reason why term reductions can also not be retroactive without compensation.

    In the mean time, if any of Prof. Geist’s students are reading this, propose a paper called “Valuation of Intellectual Property Portfolios for the Purpose of Taxation”. Let’s see how well that goes over.