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Expert Calls for Copyright Law to Keep Pace with Technology

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Americans want the nation’s copyright laws to make sense, be fair, and reflect the technologies in use, argued Shira Perlmutter, chief policy officer and director for international affairs, United States Patent and Trademark Office. 

Her April 15 lecture at Catholic University’s law school, “From Paralysis to Progress: The (Useful) Art of Copyright Pragmatism,” noted that for some reason, Congress and regulatory oversight bodies have historically had a hard time meeting that reasonable expectation.
 
“Why the disconnect between the level of interest and the pace of legislative change?” Perlmutter asked. “As technology evolves, so must copyright policy.”
 
Her remarks were presented as the 2014 Dean William Callyhan Robinson Intellectual Property Lecture, a series named after the author of “The Law of Patents” (1890) — the treatise that became the “Bible” of patent law for a generation or more — and as the founding dean of the law school at The Catholic University of America. The lectures bring together academics, policymakers, students, alumni, and members of the legal community to share perspectives on current issues in intellectual property law. 
 
Perlmutter, who is a former law professor at The Catholic University of America, also previously worked at the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, and was appointed as the first Associate Register for Policy and International Affairs at the U.S. Copyright Office. She is a co-author of a leading casebook on International Intellectual Property Law and Policy, and has published numerous articles on copyright issues.
 
Her broad ranging discussion, which covered rights, objectives and enforcement of current US copyright laws, concluded with the observation that the gap is finally beginning to close between what current copyright law actually does, and what it needs to do in order to better serve the public interest.
 
“The copyright law debates will never be easy in the complex and fast-changing environment we live in. But gradual progress is happening, is beginning to happen, and it should continue if we are creative in finding solutions,” said Perlmutter.
 
The address was sponsored by the Columbus School of Law’s Intellectual Property Law Program. A reception followed in the Keelty Atrium.