President Obama Signs Into Law Copyright Cleanup Act and Telework Enhancement Act

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President Obama signed into law Dec. 9 two bills--the Copyright Cleanup, Clarification, and Corrections Act of 2010 (S. 3689) and the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (H.R. 1722)--according to a notice on the White House website.

The Copyright Cleanup Act will make technical changes aimed at clarifying and improving federal copyright laws. The Telework Act would presumptively allow federal employees, including those at the Patent and Trademark Office, to telework, and would require federal agencies to establish telework policies and incorporate them into their continuity of operations planning.

Copyright Act Will Clarify and Correct Code.

As outlined by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) in a press statement upon the bill's Nov. 19 Senate passage, the Copyright Cleanup, Clarification and Corrections Act will make statutory changes to facilitate the Copyright Office's transition to digital files and record keeping; clarify that the exclusive licensee of a copyrighted work may further license the work in the absence of an agreement to the contrary; clarify that dramatic and literary works, like musical works, were not “published” when included on an album, and the owner therefore retains his or her rights; and clarify that regulations issued by the Copyright Royalty Judges are reviewable in court.

“This legislation will clarify certain areas of copyright law to provide certainty, and make technical corrections to the code,” Leahy said in floor remarks on the same day as the statement. “The Copyright Office has done a terrific job, as it always does, by assisting Congress in finding inefficiencies in the law and recommending appropriate changes.”

S. 3689 was introduced Aug. 2 by Leahy and Sen. Jefferson B. Sessions III (R-Ala.) and quickly passed by the Senate the same day by unanimous vote (80 PTCJ 469, 8/6/10).

The House of Representatives approved an amended version of the legislation on Nov. 15 by a vote of 385-0 (81 PTCJ 73, 11/19/10), and the Senate agreed to those changes in its final action on the bill, allowing it to move to the White House for enactment (81 PTCJ 105, 11/26/10).

PTO Hopes Telework Act Will Expand Workforce.

PTO Director David J. Kappos said in a Nov. 18 statement to PTO employees that the telework act “will allow USPTO to further expand its workforce to a 'nationwide' workforce. In particular, H.R. 1722 includes a provision to allow the USPTO to waive [the Office of Personnel Management's] biweekly reporting requirement for employees who live beyond 50-miles from Alexandria, Va.”

H.R. 1722 was introduced in March 2009 by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.). Although it passed the House July 14, setting up a Senate vote, slight differences between the two bills meant that the House needed to vote on the bill again before it could be sent to Obama.

It did so on Nov. 18, passing the legislation by a vote of 254-152 (81 PTCJ 108, 11/26/10).

By Nathan Pollard