Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Settlement Objections from a British Perspective

One of the under-analyzed bad aspects of the settlement -- which pretty clearly is about to be kaput -- is the way it proposed to impact non-U.S. authors. I expect to have a lot more to say about this in the near future.

In the meantime, I turn to Mike Holderness, an activist with Britain's National Union of Journalists (which, with one of its peculiar twists of the mother tongue, insists on calling us "freelances" rather than "freelancers"). His website is http://www.holderness.eu.

Mike writes:

NO COUNTRY, other than the US, has a [copyright] registration requirement. Not even a mechanism for registration.


On the face of it, the US requirement to register to get effective remedies is in breach of the Berne Convention:

5(2) The enjoyment and the exercise of these rights shall not be subject to any formality;

And the very next section specifies "national treatment":

5(3) Protection in the country of origin is governed by domestic law. However, when the author is not a national of the country of origin of the work for which he is protected under this Convention, he shall enjoy in that country the same rights as national authors.

Putting these together, I as a UK-based author of unregistered works am arguably entitled in international law to the same protection as is a US-based author of registered works. But does this extend to the validity of proposed civil settlements under US law?

So, if I have no need to register to protect my rights against what is, after all, a global infringement, why should I not be included in Category A?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The registration system is a bit of a sick joke. It simply does not work as intended. It is supposed to provide public notice of ownership, but no one bothers to consult it before infringing. It has a 90 day after publication limitation for statutory damages, which are the only real club against infringers, but that only applies to copyright infringement per se and not to violations of Copyright Mangement Information under section 1202. The entire Copyright Act needs reform. Getting rid of this cumbersome system would be a place to start. That has to be done by legislation, not litigation.


Francis Hamit

12:37 PM  

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