Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Reforming Copyright: Process, Policy and Politics

Friday, March 6, 2009

10:15 a.m. - 4:40 p.m.
Southwestern Campus

Presented by Southwestern's Donald E. Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute

Conference Details - Conference Schedule
Printable Brochure (PDF)

The 1976 Copyright Act, passed decades ago, and originally conceived even earlier, has proved a poor fit for the various forms of creative production that have emerged in the digital age. Congressional response to these innovations has been piecemeal amendment of the 1976 Act, resulting in an elephantine statute that, some argue, lacks any conceptual coherence. Numerous scholars have thus called for substantial revision of the 1976 Act. Yet these calls for revision typically focus on particular policy proposals rather than the overall structure of a revised act and the process by which such a revision could be realized.

Reforming Copyright: Process, Policy and Politics focuses on the distinctive issues and challenges of significantly reforming the Copyright Act of 1976. The conference will gather leading scholars, practitioners and policy makers from around the country who will focus on this issue from a variety of perspectives, considering the question of wholesale versus incremental reform; how to envision the architecture of a Copyright Act attuned to the distinctive expressive media of the digital age; and the politics and procedural roadblocks that stand in the way of reform and possible strategies for navigating those roadblocks.

CLE Credit

This symposium offers 5 hours of CLE credit. Southwestern is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider.


Click here for map and directions to Southwestern. Parking is available on campus for $6.


Contact the Biederman Institute.


9:00 -
10:15 a.m.

10:15 -
11:40 a.m.
What's Wrong? The Need to Reform the 1976 Copyright Act

This panel will consider whether the 1976 Act needs to be reformed and, if so, what form the revision should take. In particular, it will focus on whether reform should take place via gradual increments, as it currently has, or whether it would be superior to scrap the current version of the Copyright Act altogether and begin from a blank slate.

Featured speaker:

David Nimmer, author of Nimmer on Copyright and Of Counsel, Irell & Manella, LLP

Jon A. Baumgarten, Partner, Proskauer Rose LLP
Lon Sobel, Professor of Law, Southwestern Law School
Fred von Lohmann, Senior Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Lon Sobel, Professor of Law, Southwestern Law School

11:40 -
11:50 a.m.

11:50 a.m. -
1:15 p.m.
What's Needed? Re-envisioning the Copyright Act's Architecture for the Digital Age

Having examined the need for reform, the conference will then consider some sketches of how a reformed copyright act might look. This will consider the architecture of a new Copyright Act at a high level of generality, exploring how such legislation might be crafted to take into account the distinctive character of the digital age. In particular, the panel will examine how Congress should respond to the extent to which digital media have facilitated user-driven creation.

Featured speaker:
Jessica Litman, Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School

Paul Edward Geller, Attorney at Law and General Editor, International Copyright Law and Practice
Douglas Lichtman, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
Neil W. Netanel, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

David Fagundes, Associate Professor of Law, Southwestern Law School

1:30 -
2:30 p.m.

2:30 -
3:15 p.m.

The Practical Realities of Copyright Reform

Keynote Speaker:
Marybeth Peters, Register of Copyrights

3:15 -
4:40 p.m.
What's Possible? Navigating the Political Landscape of Copyright Reform

Pushing copyright reform through Congress will generate distinctive and significant challenges, regardless of one's position on the necessity and appropriate form of that reform. These challenges result from the practical realities of Congress's crowded agenda, the differing needs and demands of various interest groups, and the complexity of the subject matter governed by copyright legislation. The final panel of the day will explore how these issues might be resolved through traditional channels, as well as proposals to work outside the legislative process to accomplish meaningful copyright reform.

Featured speaker:
Pamela Samuelson, Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California Berkeley Law School
Fritz Attaway, Executive Vice President and Washington General Counsel, Motion Picture Association of America; Jule L. Sigall, Senior Policy Counsel, Copyrights, Microsoft Corporation
Michael Scott, Professor of Law, Southwestern Law School