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First off today, John Eggerton at Broadcasting and Cable reports that the House Judiciary Committee has approved Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, sending the bill to the Senate for a floor vote.
The act aims to make the Register of Copyrights a direct appointee by the President (subject to approval from the Senate). Currently the Register is an appointee of the Librarian of Congress. Supporters of the bill say the move is appropriate given the growing importance of copyright in the U.S. economy and it is the first step in properly modernizing the office. Opponents worry that it could further politicize the U.S. Copyright Office.
However, the bill overwhelming advanced through the committee with a vote of 27-1. As the bill moves to the Senate, the fight is expected to get much more heated with both supporters and opponents making their cases both to Representatives and the public.
Next up today, Tim Kenneally at The Wrap reports that musician and former Beatles member Paul McCartney says that Sony/ATV’s efforts to delay the battle over his the rights to many of his famous songs risks devaluing his rights and harm his ability to exploit his music.
The issue centers around copyright reversion (sometimes called copyright termination). Copyright reversion allows artists, after a set number of years, to reclaim the copyrights in their work if they licensed or transferred them away. McCartney filed a notice of intent to reclaim many of his Beatles songs in 2008 with an effective date in 2018. However, Sony/ATV, the current publisher, has said that McCartney’s contract was signed in the UK, where no such reversion exists, and he should not be allowed to reclaim the rights.
Sony/ATV points to a similar lawsuit in the UK involving the band Duran Duran, where the court there ruled that the band had not right to terminate their copyrights under UK contract law. Sony/ATV says that the case against McCartney should be put on hold until the appeal in that case is resolved. However, McCartney feels that delay is both unnecessary and potentially prejudicial against him, risking devaluing the rights to his music.
Finally today, the BBC reports that the copyright lawsuit over Soft Kitty, a lullaby that’s used on the TV show The Big Bang Theory, has been dismissed by a judge.
Characters on the show use the song whenever one of them is not feeling well. However, sisters Ellen Newlin Chase and Margaret Chase Perry said that the show used the lyrics for the song without permission. They claim that it was written by their mother as a poem in the 1930s and is still protected by copyright. The pair sued CBS over the alleged infringement.
According to CBS, they had obtained permission to use the song from Willis Music Co., which published it in a book of songs. The judge, satisfied that CBS had sought adequate permission for the song, dismissed the lawsuit.
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.