Government Shutdown Affects IP Profs, Attys too … down!

October 1, 2013

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Government Shutdown Affects IP Profs, Attys too … down! by Tonya M. Evans is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

As I prepared for my Copyright & Trademark class this morning, I needed to pull the text of one of the sections of the Copyright Act. So I surfed on over to to access the full text of the Act when I bumped into an odd-looking notice page.

Without really looking at the text, I figured my browser had auto-completed the last URL I’d visited at the site so I typed in myself and hit send. The odd-looking notice page appeared again and there it was … an official notice that due to the government shutdown the Copyright Office is closed: special notice due to gov't shutdownSo it seems the government shutdown is INDEED having intended and unintended consequences as thousands of federal employees are furloughed, or receiving government IOUs because the government cannot pay. The strategy to defund the federal government in order to participate in the kabuki theater of purporting to defund the Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act or ACA) a/k/a Obamacare seems not only inane (and insane) but just plain inhumane.

[ObamaCare Exchanges start up just as government shuts down]

Dozens of offices are closed, including the Copyright Office. So the impact is real. Mail will be delivered. Social Security and Medicare benefits will continue to flow (although there will likely be delays). But WIC food benefits, federal courts, NIH, food safety, Head Start, federal loan processing, veterans services and work safety (to name just a few areas) are all immediately and negatively impacted (either by delays or closures). Even our military and military families are taking a hit. And because taxes and fines will go uncollected, valuable and much-needed revenue will take a hit as well.

Despite the Copyright Office closure, the United States Patent & Trademark Office remains open … at least for several weeks! It’s hardly a silver lining but not all agencies are impacted in the same way.

The USPTO notice reads as follows:

During the general government shutdown that began October 1, 2013, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will remain open, using prior year reserve fee collections to operate as usual for approximately four weeks. We continue to assess our fee collections compared to our operating requirements to determine how long we will be able to operate in this capacity during a general government shutdown. We will provide an update as more definitive information becomes available.

Should we exhaust these reserve funds before the general government shutdown comes to an end, USPTO would shut down at that time, although a very small staff would continue to work to accept new applications and maintain IT infrastructure, among other functions. (Should it become necessary for USPTO to shut down, details of the agency’s plan for an orderly shutdown are available on page 78 of the United States Department of Commerce’s shutdown plan, available here.)

It was avoidable. Continue reading “Government Shutdown Affects IP Profs, Attys too … down!”

Event: Copyright Matters Program July 29, 2013: Copyright Conversations with the United Kingdom

News from the Copyright Office: 

Copyright Matters Program to Take Place July 29, 2013: Copyright Conversations with the United Kingdom

The U.S. Copyright Office will present a Copyright Matters program on July 29, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. Entitled Copyright Conversations with the United Kingdom, the program will be held in the Library of Congress Mumford Room, located on the 6th floor of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, D.C. Please allow time to enter the building and pass through security. The Mumford Room is accessible through the central elevator bank, closest to Independence Avenue.

The program will feature John Alty, chief executive officer and comptroller general of the Intellectual Property Office of the United Kingdom as well as Neil Feinson, director of international policy and Adam Williams, deputy director of international policy. In a conversation with Register of Copyrights Maria A. Pallante and senior officials of the U.S. Copyright Office, the panelists will discuss current copyright policy issues facing the United Kingdom and the United States, such as orphan works, extended collective licensing, small claims and recent efforts in both countries to update the copyright legal system for the digital age. The event is free and open to the public.

Additional information is accessible on our Copyright Matters page located at

An author by any other name? — Copyright and Pseudonyms

Authors use pen names (a/k/a nom de plume, alias, literary double or pseudonym) for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s to preserve anonymity (because oh what would my boss or the neighbors say??). In other cases, authors use pen names to cross over into other genres (the mystery writer who delves into romance, for example).

Whatever the reason, the question is often asked:

“what happens to my copyright if I don’t use my real name?”

The Copyright Office permits authors to register their work in their given name, a pseudonym or even anonymously.

Below is the official guidance offered by the Copyright Office [last updated December 2011]: Continue reading “An author by any other name? — Copyright and Pseudonyms”

EVENT: April 26th is World Intellectual Property Day!

Each year, on April 26th, the U.S. Copyright Office celebrates World Intellectual Property Day, an international celebration of the visionary innovation and creative expression fostered by the intellectual property system.

In honor of this worldwide celebration, the U.S. Copyright Office has compiled a comprehensive list of notable dates in copyright history.

Notable Dates in United States Copyright  Continue reading “EVENT: April 26th is World Intellectual Property Day!”

Copyright Office Comments on Mass Digitization of Books

Credit: Public Domain Treasure Hunter

On October 31, 2011, The Copyright Office on released an Analysis and Discussion Document about the intersection of copyright law and the mass digitization of books made infamous by the likes of Amazon and Google Books. The Report titled “Legal Issues in Mass Digitization” is intended to facilitate further dialogue among the various interest-holders; namely copyright holders and content providers, third-party companies wishing to exploit literary artistic works and the general public.

The Analysis & Discussion Document notes the legal issues, possible resolutions (including both legislative and voluntary market-response approaches). It also sets forth issues to consider which should be factored into any determination of the appropriate policy for the mass digitization of books.

Read the Copyright Office Legal Issues in Mass Digitization: A Preliminary Analysis and Discussion Document