Maria Pallante appointed Register of Copyrights and director of the U.S. Copyright Office

June 1, 2011
The Library of Congress announced today thatMaria Pallante was appointed as the 12th Register of Copyrights and director of the United States Copyright Office, effective June 1, 2011.  The Librarian of Congress, James Billington, stressed "the increasingly important role of copyright law in the current knowledge economy and the numerous complex issues facing copyright owners as well as users of copyrighted materials. He noted the particular challenges of protecting authors’ intellectual-property interests in the online environment and achieving meaningful exceptions and limitations that serve the public interest in the 21st century."
Copyright has its role in protecting designs, even if it can be difficult to meet the requirement of the Copyright Act.  Under the Act, the design of a useful article is protectable "only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.” 17 U.S.C. § 101.  The task, however, is not insurmountable.  For example, last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed an $11M damage award in a copyright infringement case involving furniture designs.  See opinion (pdf)We will continue to report on new developments in design protection by copyright.  In the meantime, we congratulate Ms. Pallante for her new appointment.  The press release from the Library of Congress can be found here.


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