23 October 2015Copyright

AIPLA 2015: US Copyright Office ‘must modernise’, says Maria Pallante

The US Copyright Office must modernise to meet current and future needs, according to its director Maria Pallante.

She was giving the luncheon address today, October 23, at the AIPLA 2015 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, just two hours after the office launched its strategic plan for 2016 to 2020.

The high-level goals include engaging more with copyright owners, and making copyright records easily searchable and widely available.

As part of this second drive, there will be a complete digitisation of physical copyright records and archived documents. This means, for example, that pre-1978 copyright records will be available online.

Pallante said the strategic plan “reflects my voice” but also all the input of people who want the copyright system to function better.

Among other things, she wants the office to work better with customers and allow people to have an “integrated lifecycle of copyright information at their fingertips”. This will include the date on which a work was created, published or fell into the public domain.

But Pallante complained that the office has “operated on a shoestring for decades and decades”, which is unhelpful to the copyright community.

In fiscal year 2015 the total budget of the Library of Congress, which oversees the Copyright Office, was $630.9 million. Just over $54 million of that went to the office, while the bulk of the overall budget was used for the library’s salaries and expenses.

In her opening statement in the plan, Pallante said: “This strategic plan is not a magic bullet for the future, but it is responsible, transparent, and flexible. If implemented, it will transform the Copyright Office. It will move us from a 1970s department to a model for twenty-first century government.”

She added in the luncheon session: “The Copyright Office must be lean, nimble, results driven and future-focused. Neither the office nor copyright legislation can stand still.”

The plan will remain in draft form for 30 days, allowing the public to comment on it, and will take effect on December 1 this year.

The AIPLA 2015 Annual Meeting takes place from October 22 to 24 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC.

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