Two New Copyright Royalty Judges Appointed

Judge using his gavelThe Librarian of Congress has announced his appointment of two new Copyright Royalty Judges to fill the vacancies created by the mid-term resignations of Judges Wisniewski and Roberts.  The Copyright Royalty Judges hear proceedings before the Copyright Royalty Board, and are responsible for setting rates and terms and also distributions of royalties for various statutory licenses in the Copyright Act.

Judge David R. Strickler replaces Judge Wisniewski as the Judge required to have experience in economics.  Judge Strickler received his M.A. in economics from Columbia University, was a law and economics fellow at the University of Miami School of Law, and is an adjunct professor of economics at Brookdale College in New Jersey.  He is also a commercial litigator, with a focus on valuation disputes related to securities and real estate.

Judge Jesse Feder replaces Judge Roberts as the Judge required to have copyright law experience.  Judge Feder has served since 2004 as director of International Trade and Intellectual Property for the Business Software Alliance.  Prior to that, Judge Feder held several positions at the United States Copyright Office.

Paul Fakler Quoted in National Law Journal on Proposed Overhaul of Copyright Act

Copyright SymbolThe National Law Journal ran an article today on recent proposals by Register Pallante and House Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte to begin the process for a general revision (i.e., ground-up re-write) of the Copyright Act.  The article contains a few of my thoughts on the topic.  I am certain to be writing in more detail as we move forward.  If the process is managed properly, a general revision could be a great benefit to all stakeholders (including the public).


Are “Digital Actors” Protected By Copyright?

A company called Digicon Media, LLC has issued a press release, claiming that it has obtained a copyright registration for the “digital persona” of a “virtual Marilyn Monroe.”  Digicon appears to be claiming that the registration broadly covers the exclusive right to a digital representation of Marilyn Monroe’s persona or performance.

It seems to me that Digicon is grossly overstating its rights (at least its rights under copyright law).  Last time I checked, neither “digital actors” nor “digital personas” were classes of works protected by copyright.  Indeed, the registration cited by Digicon is a VA registration, making it likely that the registration covers a particular digital animation as an audiovisual work.  If so, the registered copyright (as opposed to any potential right of publicity issues) would not prevent others from creating their own digital animation featuring a virtual Marilyn Monroe, so long as the second animation was not substantially similar to Digicon’s animation (i.e., different clothing, movement, dialogue, etc.).

There are some other interesting points about the registration.  First, the registration claimant is not Digicon, but rather is an individual by the name of Peter F. Paul.  Mr. Paul is an interesting character in his own right, with a colorful personal background that includes jail time and several unsuccessful bids to wrest the rights to several Marvel Comics characters away from Marvel and Stan Lee.  Also of interest, the registration record notes that Copyright Office correspondence is part of the record.  I would imagine that the issues raised in that correspondence are very interesting, indeed!

You Could Be The Next Chief Copyright Royalty Judge!

The Library of Congress has just announced that is accepting applications for the position of Chief Copyright Royalty Judge.  This is an extremely important position in the copyright world.  The Chief Judge is one of three Judges who decide royalty rate-setting and license fee distribution proceedings relating to various compulsory licenses set out in the Copyright Act, as part of the Copyright Royalty Board.  The Chief Judge, as the title indicates, serves a particularly important role in the administration of the Copyright Royalty Board.

The Copyright Royalty Board, in turn, serves a very important role, particularly with respect to setting rates for the various compulsory licenses, including those for webcasting and other digital music services.

Here is a link to the job listing at the website.  I encourage all qualified, interested parties to apply!

Copyright Office Releases Report of Office Policies and Special Projects

The Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante, has issued an important report, highlighting key policy-based priorities and announcing several special projects that the Office will implement over the next two years.  If you care about copyright law, I highly recommend you read this report.

There is much good news in it, including the Register’s plans to continue upgrading the Office’s website and making more of the public record available electronically.  For those less familiar with the vast amount of important work the Office does in connection with policy studies and legislation, this report will provide ample proof of just how important a role the Copyright Office plays with respect to shaping and implementing copyright law.

Of special note, the Office will be conducting regional roundtable-type events to obtain input from all of the copyright law’s many stakeholders (hopefully including the public) and guide future policies.  I will be sure to keep you apprised of such meetings.  As a special bonus for copyright geeks, we will finally be getting a revision to the Copyright Office Compendium!

Here is the Register’s Report: