sniffnoy: (Chu-Chu Zig)
[personal profile] sniffnoy
So currently in the US copyrights are automatic and not required to be registered, due to the US having entered into the Berne Convention. This leads to terrible copyright snarls where one person wants to use something of someone else's but they can't even determine who holds the current copyright to talk to about it.

Obviously bringing back copyright registration, with proper records of copyright transfers and all, would solve this (if y'know you could somehow extricate the US from the Berne Convention). But there is a real advantage to not having to register copyrights; suppose you're just some person who's drawn something and posted it to the internet and now some big company is making money selling T-shirts of it. It'd be nice to have some legal recourse there without having to register every single thing you do.

So here's an idea for an intermediate policy, which I assume would still violate the Berne Convention, but just something worth considering if, y'know, IP reform ever actually happens. What if copyrights didn't have to be registered, but unregistered copyrights could not be transferred or exclusively licensed? Obviously they could be licensed, but you could not legally bind yourself not to license it in the future. Unregistered copyrights would also automatically expire with the author's death. This way, if the copyright is unregistered, tracking who you need to consult with is easy: You talk to the author. If the copyright is registered, it might have gone through all sorts of complex stuff, but that would all be in the registry and you could look it up.

(I am not a lawyer, there may easily be all sorts of nasty details here I'm missing. But thought I'd throw this out there.)
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