April 2013 Copyright Formalities


Reform(aliz)ing Copyright for the Internet Age?

April 18-19, 2013
Claremont Hotel, Berkeley CA

Copyright formalities, such as registration of claims and placing notices on copies, may seem outdated, pedestrian, and . . . well . . . boring. They are anything but. Formalities, which in the past three decades have largely disappeared from American copyright law, may be about to stage a comeback. Why? Because copyright formalities may be one of the most important strategies for reconciling copyright law and the challenges of the digital age. Never before have creative works been made available to the public on such a large scale. This has presented new challenges for copyright law and a need to create more legal certainty regarding claims of copyright, to facilitate rights clearances and to enhance the free flow of information. Copyright formalities, such as registration and notice, may be able to overcome these challenges. Registries would, for instance, create a valuable source of information through which third parties can ascertain what works copyright protects, the scope and term of protection, the identity of right owners, and the terms on which copies of the works may be available.

In the past, formalities regimes were difficult and often expensive to comply with, particularly when trade in copyrighted works crossed national boundaries. But recent research on formalities suggests that we can get many of the benefits that formalities promise for a more efficient and focused copyright law, without the problems that led us to do away with them in the first place. The same digital networked environment that has enabled an interactive, simultaneous and decentralized creation, access and consumption of works, also permits the smooth administration of new sorts of more flexible and efficient formalities.

This conference considered, among other things, the useful role that formalities can play in addressing today’s copyright challenges, what kinds of formalities might best serve the interests of authors and of the public, economic considerations posed by formalities, the need for appropriate technological infrastructures to support new formalities regimes, and some constraints that the Berne Convention may pose for the design and implementation of new formalities regimes.

A total of 11.5 hours of MCLE credit  will be available for attendees.