Photo Attorney

Jun 12, 2009

Sen. Orrin Hatch's Remarks at the World Copyright Summit

CISAC, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, recently held its second "The World Copyright Summit," on June 9 and 10 in Washington, D.C. "to provide a forum to exchange ideas, to debate diverse viewpoints and to discuss issues linked to intellectual property and creative content online." The Summit opened with an address by U.S. Senator Orrin G. Hatch regarding copyright and intellectual property issues, and the potential effects of legislation on right owners. Senator Hatch, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, has a personal connection to the issue as he is also a platinum-level songwriter.

A copy of Sen. Hatch's remarks is available on IPwatchdog.com. Here are some of Hatch's comments of note, especially regarding his position on the Orphan Works Legislation:

. . . Appallingly, many believe that if they find it on the Internet then it must be free. I have heard some estimates cite no less than 80 percent of all Internet traffic comprises copyright-infringing files on peer-to-peer networks. . . .

. . . Currently, Congress is very active on a wide array of intellectual property bills. In between filling a Supreme Court vacancy, I am focused on updating our patent system, enacting legislation that expands the public performance right to include analog radio transmissions, passing orphan works legislation, and reauthorizing the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act. . . .

. . . I believe that artists should be compensated for their work. This is an issue of fairness and equity. . . .

. . . I also continue to be very active on passing orphan works legislation. Last year, the Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation to encourage the use of orphan works - works that may be protected by copyright but whose owners cannot be identified or located. Countless artistic creations - books, photos, paintings and music - around the country are effectively locked away and unavailable for the general public to enjoy because the owner of the copyright for the work is unknown.

. . . Unfortunately, it often isn't easy to identify or find these owners of copyrighted work. To make matters worse, many are discouraged or reluctant to use these works out of fear of being sued should the owner eventually step forward. . . .

. . . For years, I have been working with industry stakeholders and copyright experts, including Marybeth Peters, Register of Copyrights, to pass orphan works legislation. The bill seeks to unite users and copyright owners, and to ensure that copyright owners are compensated for the use of their works. I couldn't agree more with Register Peters when she said, "A solution to the orphan works problem is overdue and the pending legislation is both fair and responsible."

Some copyright owners, such as Hatch, may be more supportive of the Orphan Works legislation because of the compulsory licensing of the Copyright Act for nondramatic musical compositions, public broadcasting, retransmission by cable systems, subscription digital audio transmission, and nonsubscription digital audio transmission such as Internet radio. The royalties for those uses are set by law, so the only issue is collection. Photographers, on the other hand, set their own license fees, which is at risk with the orphan works legislation.

John Harrington also has posted interviews he conducted with Michael Heller, Robin Gibb, and Public Knowledge during the Summit. Unfortunately, as John noted, photographers, illustrators, and other visual artists were noticeably absent from the conference's speakers list and no photography organizations were present.