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Intellectual Property

In Congressional Oversight Hearing, Register of Copyrights Says Office Is Responding to Online Users

Masha Abarinova

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WASHINGTON, July 30, 2019 – Register of Copyrights Karyn Temple said on Tuesday that next year, her division of the Library of Congress plans to launch a new digital recordation system that will modernize the Copyright Office’s antiquated computer systems.

“The goal is to provide the copyright ecosystem with improved services that are more efficient and responsive to user needs,” Temple said in testimony – the first oversight hearing in 10 years – before the Intellectual Property subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Copyrights and intellectual property should remain the “engine of free expression” and support an ecosystem critical to the country’s cultural and economic well-being, she said.

She also said that copyright laws must evolve in accordance with the digital age.

Additionally, Temple spoke about a public study being undertaken by the Copyright Office evaluating the effectiveness of Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Under this “notice and takedown” provision of the 1998 law, Congress developed an expedited system for copyright owners and online entities to address online infringement.

Still, the creative community has lost about $70 billion dollars to digital copyright infringement, said Ranking Member Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. Coons said that the Copyright Office should ensure that copyright holders receive the royalties they have earned.

Online enforcement of the DMCA has become more difficult to uphold, said Temple.

Yet the Copyright Office has taken some initiative to regulate non-commercial use of online content. One example has been the activity stimulated by the Music Modernization Act of 2018.

The Music Modernization addressed copyright issues for audio recordings. The Copyright Office was tasked with determining best practices to identify and pay royalties to the copyright owners of musical work.

The department also continues to support statutory amendments to the Copyright Act and U.S. Criminal Code, she said. Such amendments would provide higher penalties for the reproduction and distribution of illegal audio and video streams.

(Photo of Register of Copyright Karyn Temple courtesy the Twitter feed of U.S. Copyright Office.)

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