In a long-awaited expression of support for a more level playing field than that outlined in its proposed settlement with a handful of authors and publishers, David C. Drummond, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer Google yesterday agreed with the House Judiciary Committee on passage of updated copyright legislation.
In response to direct questions from both Chairman Conyers (D, Michigan) and Representative Johnson (D, Georgia) about the passage of legislation offering equal legal rights to all in digitizing and offering orphan (and out of print) works, Mr. Drummond replied “We would have no problem with that.”
The 2008 session of Congress very nearly passed such legislation, with the Senate approving a bill and a House bill making it out of Committee, but stalling thereafter. The groundwork has been laid for finalizing this legislation, and passage this session could be a tremendously positive peripheral outcome of the lawsuit.
Many of the Committee members, joining with a broad range of complainants arguing that the proposed settlement would create a court-sanctioned monopoly, emphasized the appropriate role for Congress in passing updated copyright legislation as it applies to digital works. Mary Beth Peters, Register of Copyrights, US Copyright Office, advocated for this strongly in her testimony, labeling the proposed settlement “. . . a mockery out of Article 1 of the Constitution,” adding that “Key parts of the settlement are fundamentally at odds with the law.”
Rep. Sherman noted that approval of the settlement as proposed would constitute “legislating from the bench,” an inappropriate role for the Court. Representative Sherman (D, California) further suggested that Court action on the proposed settlement be delayed until Congress codified orphan works legislation for everyone.
–Linda Frueh, Internet Archive, from attending the Congressional hearing