On April 15, 2016, CLIPT hosted a one-day conference on the future of U.S. copyright law. To achieve its constitutional goals, all parts of the copyright system must work in harmony, including judicial, administrative, and congressional components. At the same time, this complex legal system must be responsive to changes in society, particularly technological developments that affect the creation and exploitation of copyrighted works, so that aspects of this system must be updated and recalibrated over time. Congress’s last major overhaul of the Copyright Act was more than forty years ago, and even Congress’s efforts to account for digital media and the Internet are nearly twenty years old. The digital age also challenges various practices and structures within the Copyright Office. For their part, courts often apply statutes and precedents developed in another millennium to current disputes stemming from facts that were unforeseeable (if not unimaginable) decades ago. This conference gathered experts from private industry, government, the bench, the bar, and the academy to grapple with these issues and, with any luck, forge a path forward.
CLIPT Director Professor Will Hubbard started the conference by welcoming the speakers and by introducing the themes of the conference.
More than 100 academics, lawyers, students, and other copyright aficionados attended the conference.
The first portion of the conference focused on current issues of copyright law facing the judicial system. Thomas Kjellberg, who is Counsel at Cowan, Liebowitz, & Latmann, kicked off this part of the conference with a review of recent important copyright decisions.
Next, Judge Marvin Garbis of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, critiqued the capacity of copyright law to keep pace with social and technological change.
Judge Garbis peppered his talk with humorous critiques of the law, much to the amusement of the conference attendees.
As lunch began, University of Baltimore Emerita Professor Lynn Mclain introduced the Keynote Speaker, Robert J. Kasunic, who is the Associate Register of Copyrights and an alumnus of the University of Baltimore School of Law. Professor Mclain taught Mr. Kasunic copyright law when he was a student.
Mr. Kasunic’s talk explored the structure and operation of the U.S. Copyright Office, at times suggesting opportunities for updating and improving its operation.
After lunch, the first panel examined the need for reform within the U.S. Copyright Office and the role that other administrative agencies can play in the copyright system. Professor James Grimmelmann moderated the panel, which included the following highly engaging speakers:
- Sandra Aistars, Clinical Professor and Senior Scholar and Director of Copyright Research and Policy of CPIP, George Mason University School of Law
- Robert Brauneis, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Dean Dinwoodey Center for Intellectual Property Studies, George Washington University School of Law
- Keith Kupferschmid, Chief Executive Officer, Copyright Alliance
- Philippa Scarlett, Deputy Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, Executive Office of the President of the United States
- Matthew Schruers, Vice President of Law & Policy, Computer & Communications Industry Association
(From left to right: Matthew Schruers, Philippa Scarlett, Sandra Aistars, Robert Brauneis, and Keith Kupferschmid)
The second panel analyzed the role of Congress in reforming copyright law. This panel was moderated by Michael R. Klipper and included the following expert contributors:
- Alicia Calzada, Outside Counsel and Former President of the National Press Photographers Association, Haynes and Boone, LLP
- Troy Dow, Vice President & Counsel, Walt Disney Company
- Joe Keeley, Chief Counsel of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet of the House Judiciary Committee, U.S. House of Representatives
- Katherine Oyama, Copyright Policy Counsel, Google
(From left to right: Michael Klipper, Joe Keeley, Troy Dow, Alicia Calzada, and Katherine Oyama)
A lively audience joined the discussions through thought-provoking questions and comments.
Informal conversations lasted well after the end of the conference.
CLIPT and the University of Baltimore School of Law are indebted to our speakers for sharing their time and expertise. We also thank Silverman Slutkin Thompson & White LLP for generously donating lunch and the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Intellectual Property Law Society for donating coffee.