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Lunney set to testify at U.S. House hearing on copyright

January 13, 2014

Glynn Lunney 

Tulane Law Professor Glynn Lunney, an authority on intellectual property law, is scheduled to testify on proposed changes to copyright protection January 14 before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet.

The hearing is set for 9 a.m. Central Time, and a webcast is available here.

Lunney expects to address whether Congress should give copyright owners the exclusive right to make their works available to the public.

Generally, whoever holds the copyright to a creative work has the right to publicly perform or display it, reproduce it, distribute it or create derivative works. In a prepared statement, Lunney argues that adding to those rights “would not put the proverbial file-sharing genie back in the bottle” but instead would “cause very real harm to the economy” by causing uncertainty in a legal framework that has developed some predictability through litigation over the past 20 years.

“As a general rule, I believe that copyright for the economy is like sugar for my coffee: a little bit is a good thing, but too much is worse than none at all,” Lunney says.

“Rather than help legitimate businesses control the unauthorized copying and distribution of their works through file-sharing networks, giving copyright owners the exclusive right to make their works available to the public would more likely contribute instead to the growing problem of copyright trolls,” he says.

Lunney’s statement says that “the linguistic scope of a ‘making available’ right is sufficiently vague and ambiguous that it would give parties a perfectly plausible excuse to re-litigate cases they lost under the existing statutory language. As a result, we would have to re-litigate previously settled areas of law; legitimate businesses would, once again, be forced to close in the face of ruinous litigation expense; and investment in new business models and technological innovation would be stifled.”

Others scheduled to testify are David Nimmer, of counsel to Irell & Manella; Southern Illinois University Law Professor Mark F. Schultz; James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International; Patricia Griffin, vice president and general counsel of the American National Standards Institute; and Carl Malamud, president of Public.Resource.Org.


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