The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is holding a public meeting on Wednesday, April 1 to gather input on how the U.S. Government can facilitate the development and use of standard content identifiers as part of the process of creating an automated licensing hub, along the lines of the Copyright Hub in the UK.
This meeting is the second one that the USPTO is holding after the publication of the “Green Paper” on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital economy by it and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in July 2013. The first meeting, in December 2013, addressed several other topics as well as this one.
(For those of you who are wondering why the USPTO is dealing with copyright issues: the USPTO is the adviser on all intellectual property issues, including copyright, to the Executive Branch of government, i.e., the president and his cabinet. The U.S. Copyright Office performs an analogous function for the Legislative Branch, i.e., Congress.)
The April 1 meeting will focus tightly on issues of standard identifiers for content — which ones exist today, how they are used, how they are relevant to automation of rights licensing, and so on. It will also focus on specifics of the UK Copyright Hub and the feasibility of building a similar one here in the States.
As usual for such gatherings, all are welcome to attend, the meeting will be live-streamed, and a transcript will be available afterwards. It’s just unfortunate that notice of the meeting was only published in the Federal Register last Friday, less than three weeks before the meeting date. I was asked to suggest panelists on the subjects of content identifiers and content identification technology (such as fingerprinting and watermarking). There are several experts on these topics who would undoubtedly add much value to such discussions, but many of them — located in places from LA to the UK — would be unable to travel to Washington, DC on such short notice and possibly on their own nickels. It would be nice to get input on this very timely topic from more than just the “usual suspects” inside the Beltway.
Establishment of reliable, reasonably complete online databases of rights holder information is of vital importance for making licensing easier in an increasingly complex digital age, and it’s encouraging to see the government take an active role in determining how best to get it done and looking at working systems in other countries that are further ahead in the process. That’s why it’s especially crucial to get as much expert input as possible at this stage.
Perhaps the USPTO can do what it did for the December 2013 meeting: reschedule it for several weeks later. If you are interested in participating but can’t do so at such short notice (as is the case with me), then you might want to communicate this to the meeting organizers at the PTO. Otherwise, the usual practice is to invite post-meeting comments in writing.