30 March 2005

Here's a collection of light reading for y'all. The Copyright Office has posted PDF images of all the comments it received on the copyright orphans Notice of Inquiry. All 716 comments. (My work is in number 607, and may be reflected in a couple of other comments from organizations with whom I've had a dialog in the past.) I have a couple of initial impressions based on the broad scope of what was submitted, in no particular order:

  • If you're going to submit a comment to a legal proceeding, consult an attorney who knows something about what needs to go in the comment. About 1/3 of a random sample of 50 did not clearly disclose the interest(s) of the individuals/organizations submitting the comments. Under the Administrative Procedures Act, that means those comments are supposed to have no weight in any final rulemaking.
  • I'm very, very disturbed by the paucity of comments from actual non-WFH creators and non-WFH creators' advocacy organizations. A quick glance shows that, in the community of authors, only SFWA appears to have taken this opportunity to comment seriously. Unless they are indexed under personal names that I'm just not recognizing, there's nothing from RWA, nor from MWA, nor from HWA, nor from WWG, nor from NWU, nor from the Author's Guild. Neither does there appear to be anything from the literary agenting community. Bluntly, the interests with textual materials are different from the interests with nontextual materials; and the community has lost a huge opportunity to have its voice heard, particularly since the publishing industry's comments were so… unpersuasive (I'm trying to be diplomatic here).
  • The comments from the BYU Law Library bear some very careful consideration. So do those from several other parties, but the value from most of them is pretty obvious. Of course we want to know what the Library of Congress has to say (and major parts of it parallel major parts of the SFWA analysis)! Others whose experiences and analysis should get attention, but who are not obvious sources of incisive comments, include the American Historical Association and Paul Goldstein & Jane Ginsburg. There are probably others; I haven't read everything yet, and these are just the ones that jumped out at me.
  • Unfortunately, a sad and vast majority of the comments are essentially useless to the Copyright Office's inquiry. They whine about singular instances of inability to locate a copyright holder without suggesting anything other than shortening the copyright term—if they go so far as to suggest any remedial action that the Copyright Office might take.