2018 Copyright Trends: 7 I Want to See and 3 I Don’t

As is traditional, near the beginning of the new year, we take a look ahead at things to come in Copyrightland. Some prospects we welcome; some, not so much.

Trends that should grow

  • Legislation: I’d like to see Congress pass one or more of the many pieces of Copyright legislation that are currently in the legislative hopper. We’ve posted about the CASE Act already; I continue to think the innovation it represents – an Alternative Dispute Resolution procedure for copyright cases under a specified dollar limits – is basically a good idea. Passing Senate 1010 (about the appointing procedure for Register of Copyright) might also be to the good; I’d also like to see the situation improved with regard to creators getting paid for the use of their music in the streaming environment (cf H.R. 1836, see also Rep. Collins’ (R-GA) ‘Music Modernization Act’).
  • Battling Behemoths: I’d like to see the issues in Oracle v. Google resolved. I’m not counting on that, though. (I’d also like to see the European Commission pass some of the copyright revisions that they have been working on bravely for a couple of years already; but I am not counting on that, either.)
  • Digitize and preserve: I’d like to see more digitization of older works and collections by organizations like HathiTrust, the DPLA. So long as the substantial and legitimate concerns of actual rightsholders are respected, I am a great fan of preservation and digitization — these activities contribute to the public good, which is one of the core goals of copyright (the other is incenting creators to create).
  • Open Access: I’d like to see greater clarity from the US Administration on their approach to Open Access for the research outputs of projects funded with Federal money. It’s been a while since the public have had any updates or reaffirmations on this.
  • Creators: I’d love to see more individual creators, of all media types, thrive and prosper in the new year. “Shine on, you crazy diamond[s].” Let’s aim for more self-publishing successes, more young songsters getting their start through YouTube; more 3D-printed Things.
  • Peer-review: I’d like to see peer-review strengthened and made more efficient; I’d like to see the impact of predatory journals minimized, or fade from the scene entirely. This is one among many pressing issues in scholarly and scientific publishing, and you could do worse than to follow them on a daily basis here (Scholarly Kitchen).
  • Try it before you buy it: I’d like to see more publishing experiments, more pilot projects, and more funding for both. These guys (Digital Science), for example, are doing amazing things.

Trends that should dwindle or disappear

  • Infringement: I’d like to see fewer poorly-based infringement suits in the entertainment industries clogging up the courts. Sometimes, it turns out that someone copied your stuff; and, assuming you have a good shot at proving it, we all (quite appropriately) have resort to the courts. Usually, though, it may simply seem like your idea was copied; and that by itself is simply not actionable under copyright. It seems like the last guy who won one of these was Art Buchwald, back in 1992. My view is similar regarding suits stemming from critical comments within YouTube postings . Too often, these may amount to attempts to restrict legitimate criticism. Don’t do that.
  • No Term Extension: I’d like to see no extension of the term of copyright in the US. It seems to me that if 95 years isn’t enough, nothing is. In other words, I’m looking forward to seeing more materials enter the public domain due to their copyright terms expiring, a year from now.
  • Fact-driven policy: On a utopian note, I’d like to see less ideology and more practicality injected into copyright policy debates. But what are the odds of that happening?

Have I missed anything? You tell me – leave a comment.

Author: Dave Davis

Dave Davis joined CCC in 1994 and currently serves as a research consultant. He previously held directorships in both public and corporate libraries and earned joint master’s degrees in Library and Information Sciences and Medieval European History from Catholic University of America. He is the owner/operator of Pyegar Press, LLC.
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