© is the copyright symbol in a copyright notice

© is the copyright symbol in a copyright notice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee will this afternoon hear from interested parties on the subject of  ‘Copyright Remedies.’

The spectrum of opinion regarding copyright is notoriously wide, ranging from those who view it as a frustrating hurdle to uninhibited innovation and those, like us, who see copyright as a vital creator protection that ensures freedom of expression and drives the vital U.S. creative economy. This hearing will discuss various key aspects of potentially streamlining copyright law, which is a necessary conversation, but one which should not be used to undercut existing rights for creators.

Sandra Aistars of the Copyright Alliance earlier released this statement to impress these very points upon lawmakers:

“Copyright is the foundation for a thriving and ever expanding market of cultural, educational, and scientific works, one that in 2012 contributed over one trillion dollars to the U.S. economy and directly employed 5.4 million workers. It is an economic asset, sometimes the only asset an creator has in negotiating with a distributor of their works – whether that distributor is an internet company or a traditional media company.

If copyright is weakened or if it becomes harder for the creator to obtain or maintain its protections, both the creator’s negotiating position and the value proposition for the distributor are diminished.

Appropriately scoped copyright protection promotes freedom of expression and individual autonomy. The Supreme Court has said, “[T]he Framers intended copyright itself to be the engine of free expression. By establishing a marketable right to the use of one’s expression, copyright supplies the economic incentive to create and disseminate ideas.”[2] Internationally, the right of creators “to benefit from the protection of the material and moral interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production” is recognized as a human right.[3] Copyright empowers creators to choose how and when to release their work to the public, according respect for individual voices while also allowing flexibility to construct a range of business models that meet consumer interests. Empowered creators benefit the public at large by making more and better quality contributions to our society’s cultural life.

A right which cannot be adequately enforced is illusory.  Unfortunately, for many individual creators and small businesses, it has become increasingly difficult to enforce their copyright rights when they are violated.  Two areas concerning copyright remedies which are of particular interest to members of the Copyright Alliance are (1) better options for addressing copyright claims of relatively small economic value; and (2) ensuring continued availability of statutory damages to provide meaningful remedies for copyright owners where actual damages would be inadequate as a remedy or hard to prove.”

— Sandra Aistars, Chief Executive Officer of the Copyright Alliance | Read the full statement here.


Follow along with the Copyright Alliance’s summary of the hearing here on Twitter.

And check back to these pages tomorrow for an expanded summary of the points made at today’s hearing.