Monday, March 4, 2024

U.S. Copyright Office issues report on moral rights

From the report, some surprises, some odd analysis, and some “what the hell is right of publicity doing in here?” moments. Regardless, and given our state of the union, we don’t think any of these proposed amendments or bills would pass muster in the next thirty to forty years. An entertaining read nonetheless.

The first proposed change would clarify that VARA’s exclusion for “commercial art” is limited to artworks both created pursuant to a contract and intended for commercial use. The second proposed change would add language clarifying how courts should interpret the“recognized stature” requirement, requiring courts to consult a broad range of sources. The third proposed change would provide that no joint author could waive another joint author’s moral rights under VARA without the written consent of each affected author.

Right of Publicity. Congress may also wish to consider adoption of a federal right of publicity law as a means to reduce the uncertainty and ambiguity created by the diversity of state right of publicity laws. A federal right of publicity law, rather than preempting state laws, could serve as a floor for minimum protections for an individual’s name, signature, image, and voice against commercial exploitation during their lifetime. Any such law, if adopted,should include an exception for First Amendment-protected activities and may require significantly more government analysis since this was not the sole focus of the current review.

A synopsis is available here. The entire 172-page report is available here.


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