Mass Digitization – Progress, Goals, and Roadblocks

Devereux ChatillonJacqueline C. Charlesworth Roy KaufmanBill RosenblattTechnology companies today are willing and able to digitize copyrighted works on a scale never imagined before. Copyright owners have raised concerns over their right to do so, and the consequences of mass digitization on publishers’ businesses and accessibility of copyrighted material to the public remain up in the air.

At the recent Copyright & Technology Conference in New York City, organized by Bill Rosenblatt, panelists reviewed and discussed recent legal and regulatory developments in mass digitization, including the Authors Guild v. Google and the U.S. Copyright Office report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization, and consider how copyright law can accommodate mass digitization in the future.

“The problem is that there are three ways to deal with things— You can do it through licensing, through legislation and litigation,” noted Roy Kaufman, Copyright Clearance Center’s Managing Director of New Ventures. “ Sometimes you have to sue and sometimes you need legislation, but generally what you’re doing is you’re solving yesterday’s problemstomorrow.  Licensing is actually how you solve the needs of your users today.  ‘Mass digitization’ shouldn’t be whether we have extended fair use or contracted fair use, but it should be about what the user needs to do with that content and how the rights-holder and the user can get together.”

Also speaking with CCC’s Chris Kenneally were Jacqueline C. Charlesworth, General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights for the United States Copyright Office along with Devereux Chatillon of New York City-based Chatillon Weiss law firm, who presented a brief review of the so-called “Google Books” case that opened in 2005 and may be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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