Hillary Clinton backs US copyright reform

Hillary Clinton backs US copyright reform

Hillary Clinton has come out in favour of US copyright reform, revealed by a campaign document announcing her "tech and innovation agenda".

It said the US copyright system had "languished for many decades and is in need of administrative reform to maximise its benefits in the digital age", naming orphan works as a particular issue (where the copyright holder is uncontactable or unknown) "benefiting neither their creators nor the public".

Orphan works have been a source of contention in the US, and have been the subject of litigation between the Association of American Publishers (AAP) - representing five AAP member publishers McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, Penguin Group USA, John Wiley & Sons, and Simon & Schuster - and Google, before reaching a settlement in 2012 over the use of orphan works for its Google Library Project. 

The UK introduced a scheme for orphan works itself only in 2014, which allows their use under a new licensing scheme. There is also an exception that allows UK cultural heritage institutions to exploit them.

Clinton's document said she would promote open-licensing arrangements for copyrighted material and data supported by federal grant funding, including in education and science.

"She will seek to develop technological infrastructure to support digitisation, search, and repositories of such content, to facilitate its discoverability and use," it read. "And she will encourage stakeholders to work together on creative solutions that remove barriers to the seamless and efficient licensing of content in the U.S. and abroad."