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First off today, Camila Domonoske at NPR reports that the Senate has approved Dr. Carla Hayden to be the next Librarian of Congress. She will replace John Bilington, who previously held the position for 28 years before retiring.
Hayden is a pair of firsts for the position. She is both the first woman to hold the position and the first African American to hold it. She is also a professional librarian and was the former head of the American Library Association.
However, Hayden will not be appointed to the position for life. President Obama recently signed into law a 10-year limit on the post, one which was to take effect with the next Librarian of Congress. As such, Hayden’s time in the position will last in until 2026. As the head of the Library of Congress Hayden will also oversee the U.S. Copyright Office, which is a part of it.
Next up today, Diana Dilworth at GalleyCat reports that Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) has introduced the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2016, which aims to create a small claims court for addressing smaller claims of copyright infringement.
In the United States, the costs of suing for copyright infringement are often too high to justify taking on cases where damages will likely be low, such as cases where the original work was not registered in a timely manner. This bill aims to create a process for dealing with small copyright claims and make it much less burdensome for both parties.
This bill has been heavily sought after by various trade organizations, including The Authors Guild, which has been working with Rep. Jeffries in recent months to craft the bill.
Finally today, Ben Sisario at The New York Times reports that the law firm Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz is currently in court challenging the copyrights to Woody Guthrie’s The Land is Your Land and the civil rights song We Shall Overcome, both of which currently claimed by their separate owners. They are also the firm that successfully fought to have Warner/Chappell release its claims on Happy Birthday to You.
In the case of We Shall Overcome, the law firm is arguing that the song is too similar to previously existing works to qualify for protection and, in the case of This Land is Your Land, the firm is arguing that Guthrie failed to properly renew his copyright in the song.
While many are happy at the efforts to free the politically-charged and historically-significant songs, those who currently own the works are not. Nora Guthrie, Woody Guthrie’s daughter, said that holding the song is not about copyright but about limiting objectionable uses of it. She says that the song, despite its fame, earns less than other tracks based on Guthrie’s work.
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.