Senators Ask for Review of Software Copyright Issues

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By Blake Brittain

Oct. 22 — Senate Judiciary Committee leaders requested that the Copyright Office undertake a “comprehensive review” of the relationship between software-enabled products and copyright law in an Oct. 22 letter to Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante.

“Copyrighted software is now essential to the operation of our refrigerators, our cars, our farm equipment, our wireless phones, and virtually any other device you can think of,” Committee chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) wrote. “As software plays an ever-increasing role in defining consumer interactions with devices and products, many questions are being asked about how consumers can lawfully use products that rely on software to function. The public is rightly seeking clarity.”

Grassley and Leahy asked the office to study:

• provisions of copyright law implicated by the ubiquity of copyrighted software in everyday products;

• whether, and to what extent, the design, distribution and legitimate uses of products are being enabled and/or frustrated by the application of existing copyright law to software in everyday products;

• whether, and to what extent, innovative services are being enabled and/or frustrated by the application of existing copyright law to software in everyday products;

• whether, and to what extent, legitimate interests or business models for copyright owners and users could be undermined or improved by changes to the copyright law in this area; and

• key issues in how copyright law intersects with other areas of law in establishing how products that rely on software to function can be lawfully used.

 

Grassley and Leahy requested that the office seek input from stakeholders, consumer advocacy groups and relevant federal agencies and complete its report no later than Dec. 15, 2016.

To contact the reporter on this story: Blake Brittain in Washington at bbrittain@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bna.com

Full text at https://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/leahy-and-grassley-call-for-copyright-study.