At the request of Congress, the Copyright Office recently agreed to undertake a public study to evaluate the effectiveness of current copyright protections for publishers in the United States, with a particular focus on press publishers. The Copyright Office issued a Notice of Inquiry seeking public comment on a variety of issues that could extend new protections to press publishers and other content creators beyond those afforded under existing copyright law.
In its letter requesting the study, Congress cited a recent directive by the European Union establishing “ancillary copyright” protections for press publishers. The Copyright Office has stated that its study will consider whether or not similar protections are warranted within the United States, as well as the potential scope, source, and appropriate beneficiaries of any such additional protections. Responsive comments from the public are due November 26, 2021. The Copyright Office will also hold a virtual public roundtable to discuss these and other related topics on December 9, 2021. A participation request form will be posted on the Copyright Office website by October 25, 2021.
The study could impact both traditional media outlets producing content and on digital media sharing of that content. It was specifically the impact of digital media on traditional content publishers that served as the impetus for the new study. The Copyright Office’s notice began with the observation that the internet has ushered in an era of disruption and transformation for the press-publishing ecosystem. It recites the financial impact that the internet has had on newspapers and other publishers. Specifically, the notice notes that newspaper advertising revenues enjoyed a steady increase for more than three decades during the years from 1970 to 2006, but have since suffered a precipitous 62% decline during the years from 2008 to 2018. From 2008 to 2019, the number of newspaper newsroom employees dropped by more than 40% and one in five (20%) newspapers closed. Continue reading ›