Copyright Matters: 2019 National Book Festival


>>George Thuronyi:
Who’s excited about copyright in this room? Anybody? All right. Good. And, if you’re not, you’re
going to be by the end of this. My name is George Thuronyi
from the U.S. Copyright Office.>>Catie Rowland:
And, I’m Catie Rowland from the Copyright Office.>>George Thuronyi: All right. So, what we’re going to
talk about copyright. What is copyright, after all? Are there, let, I don’t know. That was kind of
not a fair question because I didn’t really
tell me what it was. So, then, I’m asking you,
you know, what is it. So, let me get a
feel for the room. Who in this room is
a copyright owner? Any copyright owners? Well, we have a few. Okay. Congratulations. Very good. I might ask you that question
again, later, by the way. But, that’s just,
keep it in mind. So, what is it? What is copyright? You have seen, if you
read books, you read books because you’re here at the
National Book Festival, right? So, you’ve seen that little
copyright symbol in a book, and you’ve seen maybe a
copyright symbol at the end of a movie that you’ve
been watching. Can see it on my shirt
because I love copyright. And, you wonder what it
is, and so, copyright is, after all, there’s the TB. Copyright is ownership
in the wonderful things that you create, and by the way, even the not wonderful
things that you create. There’s no judgement. So, whatever it is
that you make, and it’s an ownership, right. You, some of you might own
a car, you own a house, or you own different things. Well, those are property,
and copyright is a kind of an intellectual property. So, it’s automatic,
though, right? So, when you have an idea
and then you make that idea into something and fix it in
some form, you get copyright. You’re a copyright
owner automatically. Nothing else you have to do. Now, there’s a little bit more
to it we’ll tell you about, but the copyright ownership
and the rights that come with it are automatic, and
they happen right away as soon as you express the
idea in some way. And, you’ve probably heard
about trademark and patent. Those are also little symbols. We’re not talking
about that today. Those are other kinds of
intellectual property law. They may be some
overlap, but today, we’re going to focus
on copyright. So, it’s a right. That’s the first
thing I’ll mention. And, by the way,
that’s R-I-G-H-T. Some people get confused and try
to write copyright W-R-I-T-E. And, I get it because it
has to do with writing, too. But, this is a right, it’s
actually a whole bundle of rights, a whole
packet, a whole basket, a whole bunch of rights, okay. And, one of the very
important rights, and historically
really important, is the right to copy, right? So, that’s where you get
that word, copyright. That’s only one of the rights. There are actually a
whole bunch of them. As I mentioned, there’s
the right to copy, okay, to make different copies of
your work to distribute it, to send it to people, to one
people, person, to 20 people, to a million people, the right
to create derivative works. Okay, so that’s when you create
something, and then, later on, come along and create
something based on that. That might be a screenplay based on that great novel
that you wrote. The right to display. So, when you take a photograph, you have the right
to display that. A right to perform. There’s digital audio
transmission right. That has to do with transmitting
things on the internet. So, these are all different
types of rights that you get as part of copyright, and
they’re yours, and you own them. And, you can do things
with them. You can sell them. You can lease them. You can license them. They’re your rights, just like
the right to your property, any other kind of property, but
this is intellectual property.>>Catie Rowland: All right. So, I have a question for you
before we go to the next slide. How many people know how old
copyright is in this country? One person back there. So, do you think it
started in the colonies? Do you think it started when
we had the federal government? Do you think it started
in, like, the 1800s. Who here thinks colonies? Who here thinks when
we became a country? And, who here thinks
in the 1800s sometime? Well, I’m going to tell
you when it came about. So, it actually is in the
Constitution, believe it or not. But, it actually predates that. So, all 13 colonies before we
had our federal government had a copyright law in each one. And, when the founders decided
to put together a constitution, in the actual Article One
Section Eight, Clause Eight, it has what we call the
intellectual property clause. And, it covers both patents and
copyrights, and if we show it to you on the screen, it’s
how to promote the progress of science and useful arts by
securing for a limited time to authors and inventors
the exclusive rights to their respective
writings and discoveries. And so, one of the little
funny things about copyright is that we’re the science in there. The useful arts are,
is the patent part. Something, you know, weird
language changes over the years, but that’s where we are. And, the way this works is that there was no federal
copyright law right away because it said that
Congress could make a law. And so, Congress went ahead
and made the first law in 1790. And so, we were talking
about the different rights that you have for copyright, and
along with the copyright clause, intellectual property clause
of the Constitution, you know, just it said that it was for
the progress of our sciences and useful articles, useful art. And, that means that the whole
point of copyright is to kind of incentivize, encourage
you to make things, make copyrighted works so
that everyone can read them and see them. And then, eventually, they go into what’s called the public
domain, which we’ll talk about in a little bit, and at which point
everyone can use them. And, there are also
some exceptions that everyone can use
them from the beginning. But, the whole point is
to kind of create culture and create our national
culture and create new things that people can use
and read and enjoy. So, that is basically the point. So, here, you have this person. He is a guitar player,
and he is writing a song. And, because he’s writing a
song, he’s going to be able to get compensated
for it, we hope. And, then, he will have enough
money to maybe get a studio to get people to help
him to go on tour. And so, it’s really a way to help him get his
music out there. And, this is another part
of the point of copyright. So, this actually is a strategic
plan which is super interesting and exciting, but I don’t
know if you all have read it. I mean, why not. But, as you can see on
there, it says Copyright: The Engine of Free
Expression, and that is a, kind of a tagline
we’re using right now. But, where do – anyone
know that comes from? Do you think it came
from the Constitution? Do you think it came
from a federal law? Do you think it came
from the Supreme Court? Supreme Court. That is the answer. It came from the Supreme court. So, there was a case
in the Supreme Court. It was actually about
Gerald Ford’s memoirs, and there was a fight over
someone trying to publish like juicy bits of
it before it got out. And, in that opinion, Justice
O’Conner said that, you know, “Copyright is the engine
of free expression.” So, the whole point of it is
to help us express ourselves and have a way to
get incentivized and encouraged to do so. And so, here is a little
bit of trivia for you. Okay. So, we’re going to
tell you this in a minute, but before we get
there, we’ll figure out if you know the
answer already. So, for our work to be
protected under copyright, it must be original, be
of professional quality, include a copyright notice,
or have a value of $35? Who thinks it is a? You’re good. Who thinks it’s b? Who thinks it’s c? I think George already told
you it does not need to be, it can be really bad,
and you can copyright it. And, d, have a value of $35. Nobody. That is kind
of a weird question because our cheapest
registration is $35, but it is, as you all notice, a. To be
original, and George is going to talk about what it
means to be original.>>George Thuronyi: Right. So, original means, so original, it’s all about the
spark of creativity. You are creating it. It comes from your mind
onto something, onto paper, onto a digital form,
onto a platform, a phone, a sound recording device. And, that’s it. It just has to have the idea and
then the expression of the idea. So, it’s pretty simple. It means that it’s independently
created and creative. You have to have a
spark, a spark, a modicum, a little tiny bit of creativity. It’s not a lot, okay. A lot of things by, are
registered by our office that don’t have that
much creativity, but as long as there’s a spark
of creativity and the idea that you have is realized in
some way, then you got it, okay? And, I talked about, so
the fixed form, okay? So, back in the old days,
I used to be very simple because it was just
paper, right? You know, that’s how
everything was recorded. And then, you know, nowadays,
things can be, most things, a lot of things, are
recorded digitally, right? But, that’s also in the law
considered to be a fixed form. And, it takes lots
of different forms. So, it can be a book
or a short story, that wonderful novel you’re
working on, poems, videos. And, that’s videos taken
by a studio, movies, or it’s videos taken
on your phone, okay? Because we’re all taking
videos all the time. All kinds of movies,
software that you create. And, because of a very
sort of odd circumstance in the copyright law, software
is actually considered a literary work. But, anyway, it’s protected. Paintings, photos, and of
course, that’s the high quality, you know, wedding
photographer photos and the news reporter
photos and also the photos that you’re taking all the
time and all your selfies, all the photos that
you’re taking. Music, and that takes the form
of sheet music or the music that you create, and
also sound recordings. So, the recordings
of somebody singing or any other kinds
of sound recordings. So, here’s what I would
like everybody to do. Did Bob tell you
to – where is Bob? Did he tell you to
put your phones away? Well, now I want you to
take your phones out, okay? Everybody’s going to take
your phone out, all right? Got their phones out. So, what I want you to do now
is to take a picture of us. Yay! So, everybody ready? Are you going to? On the count of three, I want
you to take a picture of us. One, two, three. All right. Great. Yeah, Catie doesn’t
like her picture being taken, but now I’ve forced
this to happen. Okay. So, congratulations. So, how many copyright owners
are in the room right now? Raise your hands. How many copyright owners. All of you, right? Because you all just
took that picture. So, you all created
a copyrighted work. So, go ahead, Instagram and
Twitter and Facebook that, #nationalbookfestival,
#natbookfest, actually is what it
is, #natbookfest. You can go ahead
and tweet that out because it’s yours,
you own it, right? You have the right to copy it. You have the right to
distribute it, remember, and it’s your copyrighted work. And, you created it
in that fixed form. So, that’s pretty
amazing, right? It’s pretty easy
to own a copyright because you just did it,
and now you realize, right, that you’ve owned
copyrights forever because you’ve written
lots of things and you’ve taken
lots of pictures. And, maybe you’ve
recorded a song, and maybe you’ve written a poem. So, you have a lot
of copyrighted works, every single one of you,
which is really great. Now, here’s a little fun fact,
so you each took a picture, right, and you each
own the copyright in the picture that you took. Even though, if we were to
look at all those pictures, they’re pretty similar, right? You might not be able to
tell one from the other. But, you did have a little
spark of creativity, right? Maybe you cut me out of it. Maybe you zoomed in. maybe you took a selfie instead. I don’t know, but there was
some creativity, a little spark, and so that way, you own
that copyrighted work. And, even though
it’s very similar to the person sitting next to
you and the work that they took. So, that’s kind of an interesting happenstance
of copyrighted work. So, congratulations.>>Catie Rowland: All right,
and I think we have another. This is the pictures
you probably took, and we have another question,
another trivia question for you. So, we will explain it to you
a little bit more in a second, but to kind of see
where you guys are. Here is the question. What is not protected
by copyright? Is it a, ideas, whoops, b facts,
c procedures, or d concepts? So, who thinks it’s a, ideas? Who thinks it’s b, facts? Who thinks it’s c, procedures,
and who thinks it’s d, concepts? Okay. We kind of gave
you a little bit, whoops, it didn’t work. Have to go back. It’s wiggling. Oh, sorry. It wiggles. I can’t make it wiggle. I’m not great at the wiggling. Here, let’s see if I
can make it wiggle. Ah! Anyway, they
were all wiggling. I promise you they were. You saw them wiggle. And, that means it’s
a trick question. They’re all, none of
them are copyrightable. So, ideas, facts,
procedures, and concepts, none of them are copyrightable, and some of those things might
be protected by other law. So, for example, patent
law might cover procedures, and you know, kind of
methods, that kind of thing, but that is not the part
that copyright covers. And, one thing that I
guess I will say quickly is that sometimes something is
protected by more than one kind of intellectual property. So, you can have something
that’s covered by copyright and trademark or copyright
and a design patent or sometimes all
three design patents, copyright, and trademark. So, just, they are totally
different, but sometimes, they all kind of like
are in one thing. Okay. So, not copyrightable. Here are some more things
that are not copyrightable. So, fonts. So, if you think of, like, you
know, whatever Times New Roman or whatnot, that is
not copyrightable. Although, there’s a
little catch which is if you make a software
program to create a font, that software code
can be protectable. But, if you don’t use that code
and you use something else, you can use that font. Short words and phrases. So, for example, if you
have a title of a book, my daughter over there
really loves “Dogman”, so if you had the book “Dogman”,
that could maybe be not, something else, but it
cannot be copyrighted. And, scènes à faire. Scènes à faire is
a fancy French way of saying common
themes, common ideas. So, you know, you think of a
boy meets girl and they fall in love, that kind of idea. Or, that a detective
is always wearing kind of like a trench coat. You know, those kinds of things
are called scènes à faire, and those are not
protected by copyright law. And so, then, the question is
how long does a copyright last. So, here we have another
piece of trivia for you, so you can find out, but I
will tell you it has changed over the years. So, the, I’ll tell you what
the first one was as soon as we go through this. So, how long does
copyright last? Is it 75 years from
registering the work, life of the author
plus 50 years, life of the author
plus 70 years, or 100 years from registration? So, who thinks it’s a, 75
years from registration? Who thinks it’s b, life of
the author plus 50 years? Who thinks it’s c, life of
the author plus 70 years? And, who thinks it’s d, 100
years from registration? Oh, so it is c, that’s correct. That’s the right answer. Right now, it is the life
of the author plus 70 years. That is for individuals. There’s a whole other kind of
way of doing it for corporations and works made for hire. It’s a different thing because
they don’t have a lifespan, so you can’t do it
by their life. And, this has changed
over the years, so it actually only became life
of the author plus 70 in 1998. In 1998, it was right before it
was life plus 50, and actually when it first started, it was 14
years and a renewal of 14 years. So, it’s kind of
changed over the years. We don’t have a renewal
term anymore. Now, you just get
it, and it lasts. And, I think this is
for George will explain.>>George Thuronyi: All right. So, we talked about copyright,
and we want to talk a little bit about the U.S. Copyright Office
where both Catie and I work. And, what does it do
and why does it exist and what’s the purpose of
the U.S. Copyright Office? Well, for one thing, it’s
been around a long time. So, another trivia,
and you know, I like the trick questions. So, you probably noticed that. So, this is another
sort of trick question about how long the Copyright
Office has been around. So, who thinks 1790? 1790? 1870? Any guesses for 1870? 1897? Or 1909? Anybody, 1909? So, 1790, 1870, 1897, or 1909. So, here’s the trick. There are actually kind
of two right answers. Right? Okay. So, here’s why. So, in 1870, the Library of
Congress became responsible for registering copyrights and administering a large
part of the copyright law. Doing the business of copyright as it was referred
to at that time. And, then, the Library
was swamped with copyright registrations
and books coming in and the librarian begged
Congress, said, “Please, give us more people
and more resources.” So, they, in 1897, they created
the U.S. Copyright Office as a separate department
of the Library of Congress with its own head called
the Register of Copyrights. This is a very formal title. And so, we have these two dates,
but we really like the 1870 date because if you do some
quick math, you will see that next year in 2020 we will
celebrate our 150th birthday, our sesquicentennial, okay? So, that will be on July 8th, and we want you to
keep an eye on us. By the way, copyright.gov
is our website. That’s the first
time I’ll say it. I’ll probably say it like
two or three more times. Copyright.gov, and you can find
out all the wonderful things that we’ll be doing to
celebrate our sesquicentennial of copyright at the
Library of Congress. So, what do we do at
the Copyright Office? We do a lot of things. We administer parts
of the copyright law, and one of the very important
functions is we register those copyrighted works, like
the ones you just created. And, why do we do that? Well, registering your work
with us creates a public record so that that way people
know you’re the owner of that work, okay? That’s pretty important. There’s also another
great benefit to registering your
work with us. If someone uses your
work without permission, you can take them to court. But, before you take them
to court, our office has to register or refuse your work. So, register your work
first, then go to court. So, but if you don’t register,
then you can’t go to court, and then you can’t defend
your infringement case. So, that’s a great
benefit to registering with the U.S. Copyright
Office, and we register a little over half a million claims which contain many millions
of works every year. So, it’s a lot of work that we
do, and so, we encourage you to do that to register with us. Then, I mentioned
about the infringement. That’s done by a court. A judge decides whether or
not there’s infringement. You’ve probably heard
about famous cases. They make the news
especially around music where one song sounds like
another, and then they go to court, and the
judge has to decide. Not only do they sound alike but
was there really infringement. Does somebody have
occasion to hear one work and adapt it for their own? that’s up to the
judge to decide. So, our office also
records ownership transfers. So, I mentioned before that you
have all those rights, right. Copy, distribute,
display, and so forth. And, you can sell them, and you
can lease them, you can use them in a license agreement. And, you can have a legal
document that you record with us because when you write
that screenplay and then, you want to sell it to a movie
studio, you’re going to want to record that in a legal
document you can record that document with us. And then, people know that
you have sold that right or leased it or used it
in a loan as a collateral. There’s all kinds of
things you can do, but that’s the business
end of copyright. So, $1.3 trillion industry
in the U.S. That’s a lot of money tied up in
copyright industries. And so, we’re here to support
that, and another thing that we do a lot of
is educate the public, which is why we’re here today. And, why? Because the copyright
law has changed a lot, okay? In 1790, here it is. It was two sides of a page. This is not the real thing. The real thing’s at the
archives, by the way. They wouldn’t let me take it. Okay, but this is it. It was two pages of a sheet
of paper in a protected books and maps and charts, okay? And, that was the copyright law. Probably sufficient at that time
because there wasn’t all kinds of digital downloading going on and Spotify didn’t
exist in 1790. Nowadays, this is the
copyright law, okay? This whole volume right here. But, here’s the good news. You don’t have to learn this. We’re here to help you, okay? You go to copyright.gov, and
we have lots of resources that help you understand what
parts of this law apply to you, and when you’re registering
your copyright, you can go to our website. You can call us. We will give you the
information you need to know. We’re not going to give you
legal advice, but we’re going to steer you to the
right information. We have bite size
information for you. So, that’s why we’re
here to help you figure out how you can connect
to the copyright law and how you can benefit from it. The other thing that
happens with the books and other materials that come in through copyright
registration is that they, a lot of them become
parts of the Library of Congress collections. So, the Library of
Congress builds a lot of its collections based on
your copyright registrations and other things that
come in for deposit. We call that deposits. Those are the things that
come into the copyright office and some eventually
to the library.>>Catie Rowland: All right. So, now, we have talked about
the rights, and we’re going to talk about how you should
use works that are copyrighted that might not be yours. So, important to be a
responsible copyright user. So, if you look at something,
don’t just, you know, copy it wholesale and start
selling it or printing it on a t-shirt or something. Make sure you pay attention
to what is going on, and there are certain
things that you can do without permission, though. And, there are a lot of
exceptions in the copyright law. So, there are certain
ones for libraries. There are some for people who
are blind or visually impaired, and there’s something called
the first sale doctrine and that is the thing where
if you have, like, a book, and you sell it to somebody
else, you can do that. Because the copyright, and the
copyright itself only is the kind of expressed idea. It’s not the physical thing. So, if I was to sell a painting,
you can hang that painting in your house, but I am the one who can make the
posters of that painting. You cannot. So, there are kind of different
exceptions, but the biggest one that everyone thinks
about is fair use. How many of you have
heard fair use? Great. It is a cornerstone
of our copyright law because, as you know, we have
the first amendment. And, the first amendment is
obviously incredibly important in the United States. And, fair use is one of the ways
that we make sure we don’t kind of tread off against
the first amendment. So, it allows certain uses
that will not run afoul of other copyright provisions. And, we are going to give
you a special treat now. This is the world premiere. If I could get it to work. Of our video. So, we’re in the midst of
making a bunch of little videos about copyright facts
and information. So, we actually have
one on fair use, and so I’m going
to show it to you. And, you are the first people
who are not like us to see it. So, here we go. Let’s see if I can. Oh, you’re going to do it? Okay. [ Music ]>>So, what is fair use? Fair use is a case by case
test found in copyright law. When met, it allows the use of a copyright protected
work without permission. For example, using
a quote from a book in an article may be a fair use. The fair use concept is
central to copyright law and helps promote freedom of
expression and innovation. Let’s look at some
basic concepts. There’s no formula to ensure
that using a particular amount of a work will qualify
as fair use. Also, it’s not as
simple as declaring, “I think my use is fair.” While the law gives
some examples of things that are traditionally fair
use, not all uses that fall under these categories
are actually fair uses. And, some specific
uses that do not fall under these categories have
been found to be fair uses. Fair use is a case
by case inquiry. We have to analyze
each use of a work. Essentially, fair use asks us
to think through our actions. Federal law sets out
four fair use factors. The first evaluates the purpose
and character of the use, an educational, noncommercial, or transformative use is more
likely to be considered fair. A transformative use adds
new purpose, meaning, or message not present in
the original as opposed to merely replacing
the original work. A use that merely replaces
the original use or purpose of the work is less likely
to be considered fair. The second factor considers the
nature of the copyrighted work and will favor fair use
if the work is factual or previously published. Here, consider copyright’s
purpose, to encourage creative expression by providing exclusive
rights to authors. The third factor
evaluates how much of the original work is used. In addition, pay
attention to the importance of what was taken from the work. Are you suing a lot
of the original work or the heart of the work? Taking too much when not
necessary is less likely to be fair use. The fourth factor analyzes
whether the new use harms the existing or potential market
for the original work. Fair use requires an analysis
of all the facts and factors. The factors may point
in different directions and may not lead
to a clear result. It is important when
thinking about fair use not to jump to conclusions. Only a judge can make an
official determination of fair use. This usually happens
during an infringement case. Sometimes, it can be
hard to rely on fair use, especially if there isn’t a
lot of case law available. Finally, if you don’t know
if a use is a fair use, you can always ask
for permission from the copyright owner. If you decide to rely on
fair use, be thoughtful and deliberate and keep
these core points in mind. To learn more about
how fair use is applied in different situations, visit the Copyright
Office’s fair use index. [ Music ] [ Applause ]>>Catie Rowland: Did I mention
the fair use [inaudible]?>>George Thuronyi:
[inaudible] slides. All right. We’re going to skip. All right. So, that was a lot there. There’s a lot about
fair use, right? And, you don’t have to
remember it all right now. Copyright.gov, remember. We have our fair use index. We’re going to have
this video soon. So, I think the takeaway
is that you do have to put a little thought
into it, okay? Do a little research, think it
through, and use our website, copyright.gov, and you’ll
learn more about it. So, there are some other ways that you can use
materials responsibly. For example, if something
is in the public domain. Have you heard about
the public domain? Anybody who’s heard about that? Yeah, okay. So, that means that
something is free to use. Works created by U.S. government
employees in their duties, those are in the public domain. Works prior to 1924 are in the
public domain, and from now on, that started this
year in January. Every year, it’s going
to tick one year forward. There are some works that
were never protected. They may be in the
public domain. So, there are things to think
about to be a responsible user. Is it an educational use? There, one thing
that you can rely on if you’re absolutely sure
that something is protected, if you want to use a Taylor
Swift song in your work, and you’re basically taking
the whole thing, ask the person who owns the copyrighted
work for permission. You can always ask, and
so that’s a good way to go if you’re relatively sure that
fair use and public domain and other things don’t apply. So, you can always
ask permission. So, we have just a
few minutes more, and we are open to
your questions. And, we have microphones
over here if you have any questions
for us. We’ll be glad to answer them. Questions? No questions?>>I’m Brian Marcus. I wanted to ask. It’s been rumored that you,
if you have, say, a manuscript or something that
you mail to yourself, that that actually counts
as being copyrighted.>>Catie Rowland: I didn’t even
have to hear the whole question. That is called the
poor man’s copyright. So, if you’ve ever heard of the poor man’s copyright,
that is not a thing. So, that is when you, you
know, write your manuscript and you mail it to yourself. And, is that a registration? Does that do something special? No. That does not give
you a registration. You have to register it with the
United States Copyright Office. You will have copyright
protection if you wrote it down anyway. I think some people do it,
and they think, like, oh, I, you know, I’ve sealed it up,
and now it’s totally mine. And, no one else used it. But, it’s unfortunately,
it is not helpful.>>With regard to older
copyrighted material, does the Library
maintain a registry? Like, say if I was looking
up a movie that was shot in the 1940s, who, you know,
how could I reach out to you all to find out who the copyright
owners of this would be?>>George Thuronyi:
Copyright.gov. So, yeah, so it’s, if it’s
from 1978 up until today, there’s a very easy to
use search capability. You can look by claimant
or by title. The works older than that are
on a 36 million catalog cards. But, we have recently digitized
them and put them online. They’re in a kind of a
rudimentary search system. You can’t use full text
searching like you would in Google, but you can
browse through the drawers as if you were looking
through a card catalog. So, it is possible
to find things, and they’re indexed also. They’re the index of
copyright registrations, and they go all the way
back to the beginning. So, you can do that. So, thank you for asking that.>>Did it turn off? Oh, there we go. Hi. So, I had a question,
more of a policy question. You talked about fair use
and the first sale doctrine. But, those only apply, well, the
first sale doctrine only applies to physical copies of
copyrighted material. Software and, like, digital
books can only be licensed. And so, the waters get a
little murky in that respect. What is the copyright doing
just sort of policy wise about trying to figure that out?>>Catie Rowland: That
is a great question. We actually have a
report on software, and actually it’s
consumer products. And, this has come up a
lot because you’re correct. A lot of software companies will
license their works, and now, they’re doing it online as well. So, instead of getting
the CD and you go and you, and kind of you get like a
yearly fee that you have to pay. And, they have always kind of
used this licensing construct to get their stuff out. They say that they’re
not selling it per se. So, this is kind of
exploded recently because now we have
software at everything. So, if you think about
your refrigerator. You might not know this, but there’s some little
software telling you how, like, the cubes should be
coming out or whatnot. Or, your thermostat or
those kinds of things. They windshield wipers. All these things that before
were completely mechanical, now have software. So, it is something
that we are exploring. We have, and I will tell
you about this later because it’s kind
of in the weeds. But, there’s this thing
called section 1201 which goes into that. Every three years, we
provide certain exemptions, and we also have been looking at
it very deeply because we know that it’s kind of
going everywhere. So, it was, I guess it was
2016, think it was September, October, November 2016. We have a really awesome report
that I co-authored called “Software and Consumer
Products.” So, take a look at that. It’s like 100 pages, but
it is really actually for us, pretty succinct.>>Cool. Thank you.>>My question deals with
ownership of copyrights. You indicated that an author
can register their work with the Copyright Office, and you also touched
upon assignment. What is the significance
of assignment in, to phrase my question, I
might give a hypothetical. Author A assigns his copyright to B. B does not record the
assignment in your office. Later, A assigns
his copyright again to C. C does record
in your office. Who wins?>>George Thuronyi:
Well, that’s a good, complicated question there, but
by the way, both registration and recording of assignments,
they’re both optional, okay? But it is up to the
parties involved to follow the law, right? So, yes, somebody kind of signed
their work to someone else, but if they’ve assigned it to
a third person without telling that first person, you know,
that might be something that they’ll have to
fight out themselves. We wouldn’t get involved in that
necessarily, but we will serve as the office of
public record of any of the documents
that are involved.>>Catie Rowland: And, I’ll say, so basically we don’t
have a procedure in the Copyright
Office to determine who is and who is not right. So, anyone can, you know, file
these things, and if they swear under penalty of perjury,
we’ll take their word for it. And, if there’s more
than one, we will not, kind of, adjudicate that. They have to go to court
to kind of work that out. So, we don’t have a
process where we say, “Oh, you’re the owner or
you’re the owner.”>>All these rules make a lot
of sense, and they’ve been around for, you know,
I mean, they’ve evolved over a couple hundred years. But, isn’t the problem really
a question of enforcement? Because for an average copyright
owner, now, if something’s going to get stolen, if you write
a book, and it gets published by someone on the internet. You have no idea
who even did it. You, unless you have hundreds
of thousands of dollars and ten years to go through the
court system, you have no hope of ever finding those people. So, it’s kind of all of
this, with all respect, because I think the
system’s great. But, isn’t it kind of irrelevant because all the damage
economically is done. Everybody can read the book. Everybody can read your
work, hear your song. And, there’s nothing you can do
to put the cat back in the bag. Isn’t that really the
situation that we’re in today?>>Catie Rowland: Okay. Well, that is a very
good question. You’re right. So, in one respect. So, to get a copyright
infringement lawsuit, it’s all federal court. You can’t go to state court. State courts have, like,
small claims courts. There’s no such thing in
the federal court system. And, federal courts
can be very expensive. So, right now, you would hope
to get, you know, some pro bono, that means free representation
from a lawyer. And, there are kind of entities
called Lawyers for the Arts and a lot of clinics at
certain universities. That is kind of where
we are right now. However, there is
legislation pending right now that would provide for
a small claims tribunal within the Copyright Office
where you could go for claims under $30,000 to go to kind of
this kind of arbitration panel that would be in the
Copyright Office. It’s under this thing called the
Case Act, which is not passed. It kind of went out of the
Judiciary Committee, I believe. But, it’s kind of sitting
around for right now. Maybe it will go somewhere. Maybe it will not. Don’t know. But, that would be one way
of kind of making it easier for people to enforce
their rights.>>But, it still presumes
you know who stole it.>>Catie Rowland: Yep. You do have to do
that, and that’s kind of a problem all over the place.>>You kind of touched
on this earlier.>>George Thuronyi: Okay. Our last question. I’m told we have to wrap it up.>>Oh.>>George Thuronyi: Thank you.>>You kind of touched
on this earlier when you mentioned
software and a yearly fee. If you get a written
piece copyrighted, is there a yearly fee that
accompanies that as well?>>George Thuronyi: I’m sorry,
yearly fee that does what?>>If you get a written
piece copyrighted, do you have to pay a
yearly fee once you.>>George Thuronyi: No.>>Okay.>>George Thuronyi:
Only pay once. You register the work,
and then it’s good for the lifetime plus 70 years.>>Fantastic. Thank you.>>George Thuronyi: Okay. Well, thank you very
much for coming to listen about copyright, and I hope
you’re all excited about it. And, where you’re going to go? Copyright.gov, right? All right. thank you. [ Applause ]

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