Thursday, September 10, 2009

US House Judiciary Committee Sits on GBS/ Orphans

The US House Judiciary Committee is currently considering H.R. 5889, "To provide a limitation on judicial remedies in copyright infringement cases involving orphan works." Committee hearings are where the lawmakers (Congress and Senate representatives) have a committee that summons those they want to the table and asks them questions with a view to forming an opinion to inform their colleagues. Often they are part of a process where the legislature is trying to make up its mind as to what political action is needed.

So to hold a meeting at a time when a lawsuit is being deliberated is somewhat understandable on one hand and yet strange on the other. Some may say its firing a shot across the judiciary, others that its merely following through its own investigation on what it has being looking at for some time. What is clear is that everyone is now starting to finally realise what a potential seed change the Google Book Settlement would bring to copyright and the marketplace.

It would make sense to most people if the debilitative bodies got together and sorted the rules out. This is not a US centric world and that is why the Berne convention was formed and why it is needed to act today. Individual governments owe it to their creators of intellectual property to come together and agree a way forward and not leave it to a back door judgement. It is no clear that governments are starting to take notice and Google aren’t getting their own way, but the debate now rages and whatever Judge Chin decides, it is clear that it will not be supported by all.

Why did it take so long for the issues to get into the public domain? Why did so many feel that it was correct to trust and not question? Why was debate missing?

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