Washington, D.C.  – Today House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) spoke at the World Intellectual Property Day event hosted by the U.S. Copyright Office and the Copyright Alliance.  Below are his remarks as delivered via video:

Chairman Goodlatte: “Thank you for the opportunity to give remarks at today’s event. Unfortunately, I had a pre-existing commitment in Charlottesville this morning that prevented me from being with you in person.

Three years ago, the Committee began a process to thoroughly review our nation’s copyright law, an overdue effort that resulted in gathering input from a diverse range of copyright creators, owners, distributors, platforms, and end users. Beginning with 100 witnesses at 20 formal hearings, the Committee then traveled to Nashville, Santa Clara, and Los Angeles for three public roundtables with over 60 participants. Committee staff then followed up with all prior witnesses and those who had expressed an interest in copyright to develop a comprehensive record of the issues facing the American copyright system today.

What copyright issues did the Committee hear about? More than most could imagine. Some of the topics included:

  • In what ways can consensus be achieved in copyright policy?
  • How does copyright and technology create innovation in America?
  • What is the proper role of voluntary agreements and how can they be encouraged?
  • Does the scope of copyright protection need updating?
  • Does the fair use balance as it exists today reflect Congressional intent when it was first codified?
  • Is Section 512 working well for all interested parties?
  • Are bad faith actors abusing the notice and takedown system?
  • Does U.S. law create the proper framework for the preservation and reuse of copyrighted works that are either deteriorating or lacking copyright ownership information?
  • Is the current compulsory video license framework the best approach?
  • How is first sale working in a world of mixed and digital goods?
  • Does the music licensing system work to the detriment or success of musicians and is the current compulsory license system working?
  • Is the termination rights framework too complicated?
  • Does the U.S. need greater moral rights or a resale royalty?
  • Does the current remedies framework reflect an appropriate balance between providing compensation for damages for actual losses while deterring future infringements?
  • Does this same remedies framework provide a meaningful enforcement right for smaller copyright claims?
  • Do the anti-circumvention provisions of Chapter 12 efficiently determine exemptions for adverse effects on non-infringing uses or for security and encryption research?
  • Are the needs of the visually impaired community being met?
  • What is the impact of current copyright law upon students, professors, and their academic institutions?
  • Is the Copyright Office functioning well in its present framework or is there another framework that would work better?
  • What are the resources and information technology necessary for the Copyright Office to function well?

While not all of these questions are of interest to everyone in the copyright system, they demonstrate the interconnected nature of U.S. copyright law. Simply changing a paragraph here and a word or two there in Title 17 may have a major impact far beyond its intended approach. Thus it is critical that Congress understand the overall impact of any changes in copyright law before proceeding with formally introduced legislation. It is also clear that neither a solely copyright owner focused bill, nor a copyright user focused bill, could be enacted by Congress today, nor should they be.

Any potential changes to copyright law cannot be based upon mere talking points of interested parties. Copyright law, much like all of the other Titles of the U.S. Code, are about the details. Words matter, not bullet points.

In the weeks ahead, we will identify areas where there is a likelihood of potential consensus and circulate outlines of potential reforms in those areas.  Then we will convene stakeholders for further work on these potential reforms.

And you have my personal commitment that as the review shifts to more focused work on potential reforms, the process will be transparent and the Committee will continue to ensure that all interested parties have the opportunity to weigh in on issues of concern to them. Our copyright system deserves no less.

While no one can guarantee that every interested party will share the same views on every copyright policy issue, I can guarantee that we will have an open ear to everyone who wants to contribute to this process.  All views are welcome.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak with you today. When our nation’s Founders included intellectual property in our Constitution, they recognized the importance of creativity to our nation and our economy. We need to ensure that our laws continue to promote creativity and innovation in the digital age.  I look forward to working with you in the months ahead.”

Background: April 26, 2016 marks the 16th Annual World IP Day.  This day was designated by the member nations of the World Intellectual Property Organization in order to raise awareness about how patents, copyright, and trademarks impact daily life, to raise understanding of how protecting IP rights helps promote creativity and innovation, to celebrate the contributions of creators and innovators to societies around the world, and to encourage respect for the IP rights of others.