Copyright and Technology 2019: Keynote Speaker; Speaking Proposals Open

We have a keynote speaker and a list of session topics for Copyright and Technology 2019, our tenth annual conference, which will take place on Wednesday, January 16 at Fordham Law School in NYC, co-produced with the good folks at the Copyright Society of the USA and sponsored by the Fordham IP Institute.

I am thrilled to announce that our keynote speaker will be Paul Goldstein of Stanford Law School. Prof. Goldstein scarcely needs any introduction among copyright geeks. He is the author of several books including two important copyright law treatises (Goldstein On Copyright and International Copyright: Principles, Law and Practice); five legal novels, one of which (Havana Requiem) won the Harper Lee Prize for legal fiction; and Copyright’s Highway: From Gutenberg to the Celestial Jukebox, a landmark 1999 general-audience book that presaged the era of interactive streaming years before the first service launched. Prof. Goldstein is working on a 20th-anniversary update of Copyright’s Highway, which he will be previewing at our conference.

We typically feature a research presentation in the morning plenary session after the keynote; we’re still on the lookout for promising, impactful copyright and technology research — academic or otherwise — for this slot. If you’re doing anything interesting and would like to present to our discerning, copyright-geeky, tech-savvy audience, please get in touch. Previous research presentation topics included black box music royalties, effects of anti-piracy techniques on e-book sales, and DMCA notice-and-takedown practices.

Finally, here is a tentative list of topics for our two tracks of afternoon topics.

Copyright Liability for Internet Service Providers
In light of the court decision in BMG v Cox, pending record label litigation against the ISP,  and the demise of the Copyright Alert System, ISPs may have to rethink their relationships with copyright, whether it’s sufficient merely to accept DMCA notices, and the kinds of processes they will need to implement to be eligible for the DMCA safe harbor. We’ll discuss issues such as repeat infringer termination policies, red flag knowledge/willful blindness, and making available.

Rational Approaches to Online Image Licensing
Stock image agencies and Creative Commons licenses provide ways for people to get licenses to many images for use in published materials. But it’s still very easy to search the Internet for images and use them without even knowing their copyright status or license terms. In this session, we’ll discuss the possible carrots (convenient licensing frameworks) and sticks (enforcement) that can be used to solve this problem and the roadblocks that stand in the way.

Is 13 an Unlucky Number? Effects of the EU Copyright Directive
The European Union is likely to enact a new Directive that could require certain types of online services to take proactive steps to license copyrighted material or keep it off their services. It will take years to figure out what types of technologies or enforcement schemes may be acceptable or required under the laws as implemented in EU Member States. Regardless, just as the EU GDPR had implications for website terms of use worldwide, the new EU Directive could have a big ripple effect on online services’ copyright responsibilities in the U.S. and beyond. We’ll discuss the Directive and get a head start on predicting its implications.

The Future of Music Mechanical Licensing
The passage of the Music Modernization Act sets the stage for a major shift in practices around mechanical licensing of musical compositions for streaming services. Our panel will predict possible futures for the single mechanical licensing agency that the Act calls into being. We will discuss whether it will live up to the expectations of the bill’s supporters and what effect it will have on precision and accountability for royalty payments in the largest and fastest-growing segment of recorded music industry revenue today.

Content Ownership I (Law & Policy Track): Litigations
If you buy a physical item such as a print book, vinyl LP, or DVD, the content is yours to do with as you please; if you stream music on Spotify or video on Netflix, it’s clearly not. If you buy a physical product that entitles you to a digital download of the same content, it’s a gray area. We’ll have a stimulating discussion on the meaning of ownership in the digital age and how it’s likely to play out given recent developments in litigations such as Capitol v. ReDigi and Disney v. Redbox.

Content Ownership II (Technology Track): Blockchains and DRM
If you purchase a music file or e-book online, you usually get rights from the retailer’s end user license agreement that are more restricted than for physical books or records. At the same time, startups are building new services that use blockchain technology to emulate content ownership for digital files more closely than traditional downloads. This raises two questions: how well do these blockchain solutions emulate ownership? And what types of DRM technologies — if any — are necessary to do this? In this session, we’ll hear from both the startups and the skeptics.

I’m accepting proposals to moderate or speak on any of these now. When sending your proposal, please include the following information:

  • The basics: proposed speaker’s name, position, organization, etc.
  • A bio or CV, or a link to one (LinkedIn or law firm page is fine)
  • Session name
  • Are you proposing to speak or moderate?
  • Brief description of your perspective on or experience with the topic
  • Contact information of proposed speaker

I will accept proposals on a rolling basis, but we intend to publish the full slate of speakers by the end of October. Moderator proposals are preferred over speaker proposals. If you are submitting a proposal on behalf of someone else, please note that if the proposal is accepted, the speaker must confirm personally before he or she will be put on the program. Finally, this is a tentative list of sessions; if you have an idea for another one, I’d love to hear it.

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