June 28, 2017

(L to R) Associate Professor Susanna Fischer and Debbie Chu

Debbie Chu '17 has had an article accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of The Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society. Her article, "The Future of the Compulsory License: Tick Tock and It's Time to Eliminate It," was part of The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law's Student Scholars Series presentations during the spring of 2016. The same article was also selected as third prize winner in The University of New Hampshire's Intellectual Property Article Contest.

Chu's Student Scholar Series' presentation, "The Future of the Compulsory License in Copyright Law: Tick Tock and It's Time to Eliminate It," discussed how the compulsory license in U.S. Copyright Law is required to make and distribute recordings of a song, such as Quietdrive's cover of Cyndi Lauper's iconic song "Time After Time." She explained the compulsory license allows recording artists to record their own version of a song as long as they pay a statutory royalty and comply with other statutory provisions in Section 115 of the Copyright Act.

Chu argued that the compulsory license is no longer appropriate for our digital age. Congress initially implemented the license in the early twentieth century to address concerns of a potential monopoly in the music industry. "The license was created solely for the purpose of a potential monopoly, but in today's world there is no monopoly," she said. "The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) represents over 1,600 member labels as opposed to only one dominate label in 1901."

Chu proposed that while the copyright license has been amended to include digital transmissions and ringtones, it is time to eliminate the license altogether and replace it with free-market licensing. "My recommendation is to phase out the compulsory license over a period of time," she said.

The Student Scholar Series was founded by Clinical Associate Professor of Law A. G. Harmon in 2009. It was established in order to recognize notable legal scholarship produced by students during the academic year and to foster the practical skills associated with presenting and defending that scholarship in a professional conference-style setting.

Click here to view the presentation on CUA Law's YouTube Channel.