Last week, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) announced in a statement at the Library of Congress that the committee will be conducting a broad review of copyright law in the next several months. He cited concerns that existing copyright law has failed to keep pace with technology, and that lawmakers have had to make difficult decisions based on these outdated laws. The review will be conducted with several hearings from industry experts and others with knowledge of new media and copyright.
This announcement follows last year’s high-profile failed attempt to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which failed after a concerted push against it from tech giants and internet privacy advocates. Goodlatte was a sponsor of that legislation.
Goodlatte did not mention any specifics, but the issues most likely to be reviewed in the coming months include online piracy, music copyright law, and procedures for dealing with orphan works. Proposed policies for dealing with copyright and intellectual property in the digital age have so far alarmed many privacy advocates because of the mechanisms they propose to enforce the law.
This sweeping review may allow Goodlatte and his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to draft new compromise legislation that satisfies both internet privacy advocates and industry lobbies with a vested interest in digital copyright protection, like the RIAA and MPAA. Satisfying both parties will likely be extremely difficult, but taking the steps to research the issues and hear from all parties beforehand will allow the committee to draft more informed legislation that has a better chance of passing.