The head of the US Copyright Office herself admits that copyright law is broken, and has asked Congress to try to create "the next great copyright act." It looks like Congress might actually take up the torch: US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte says that his group will "conduct a comprehensive review of US copyright law over the coming months," specifically designed to address whether the laws fit the needs of modern technology.
In a speech given at the World Intellectual Property Day at the Library of Congress, Goodlatte mentioned a few examples of the sorts of problems that he hopes to address in such a review:
The Internet has enabled copyright owners to make available their works to consumers around the world, but has also enabled others to do so without any compensation for copyright owners. Efforts to digitize our history so that all have access to it face questions about copyright ownership by those who are hard, if not impossible, to locate. There are concerns about statutory license and damage mechanisms. Federal judges are forced to make decisions using laws that are difficult to apply today. Even the Copyright Office itself faces challenges in meeting the growing needs of its customers - the American public.
"The goal of these hearings will be to determine whether the laws are still working in the digital age," he added.
Copyright issues are increasingly becoming a part of mainstream conversation: affecting the creative freedoms of the TV shows and movies we watch; our ability to unlock our cellphones; to receive content from services like Megaupload, Aereo, Pinterest; and much, much, more. It'll be interesting to see if the Judiciary Committee can help make it easier to avoid running afoul of copyright law with new and existing technologies, while still making sure copyright owners get some value from their work.