Last week, Maria Pallante, Register of Copyrights for the U.S. Copyright Office, announced the Office’s priorities and projects for the next two years. Ms. Pallante explains that the Copyright Office will be focused on how to implement changes to copyright law and updates to the copyright-administration process. Many of these projects and priorities are meant to directly address the thorny copyright issues that everyone involved with copyright – including content creators, technology companies, courts, and consumers – have been struggling with in the past decade.

Some of the upcoming studies and projects include:

  • A small-claims solution for copyright owners that could help individuals bring claims for relief even if the potential damages recovery would be small.
  • A mass, book-digitization project that may directly address issues raised in the now-scuttled Google Books Settlement, such as how to facilitate the authorized use of so-called “orphan works.”
  • Providing continued research and support to Congress in its efforts to deal with foreign websites hosting infringing content (Protect IP Act) and illegal streaming (Commercial Felony Streaming Act).
  • Research into alternative-licensing mechanisms for cable and satellite retransmission that hopefully would update the rules created in the 1970’s “at the dawn of commercial cable systems”
  • Research alternative-registration methods for blog content that may have a number of authors and daily or hourly content updates.
  • Update the Copyright Office website to make the more than 70 million historical copyright records digitally available and searchable online (with a loud yawn coming from USPTO.gov).

One interesting side-note on the digitization project is that the Copyright Office is considering crowdsourcing the project by allowing members of the public to help identify handwritten documents. These projects and priorities could have a major impact on both the law and administration of copyrights for content creators and distributors in the coming years.