Re:Create Recap – Week of September 3rd

Online Copyright Registration System Failure Underscores Need For Copyright Office Modernization. The Copyright Office’s online registration system — eCO — has been unexpectedly down for days with no end in sight, according to Politico’s Alex Byers. In the September 1 Copyright Office online system down after technical snafu (subscription required), Byers reports on the shutdown since Sunday evening: “’As result, eCO remains offline, and Copyright Office staff are unable to access internal shared network resources. Until service is restored, you will be unable to use the eCO system to file a copyright registration, and Office staff may be unable to access Office records,’ the Copyright Office said in an email announcement.” Byers’ story also points out that “The Copyright Office, which is a component of the Library of Congress, is known for having woefully antiquated technology systems.”

Manuscript Discovery In “Happy Birthday to You” Copyright Case. As a U.S. District Court Judge considers the case of whether the popular “Happy Birthday to You” song should be free for all to enjoy, a University of Louisville librarian has uncovered the original manuscript that inspired the song. Andrew Chung with Reuters reports in the August 31 story College finds manuscript of song that inspired ‘Happy Birthday’, “The discovery will likely intensify interest in a high-profile U.S. court case over whether Warner Music Group has a valid copyright to the ’Happy Birthday’ song and can continue to reap from it an estimated $2 million in royalties every year.”

Final Call For Re:Create South By Southwest Panel Votes!
If you haven’t already voted for our Copyright & Creators: 2026 panel, you only have until September 4 to do so. Our panel will address the tough questions about copyright law and more importantly, how copyright will look 10 years from now. How will the law impact creators and innovators? Will our laws keep pace with the times or fall behind? Vote for our panel by the deadline later this week if you think these pressing questions need to be addressed!

Surprise Copyright Lawsuit Foils Annual Celebration.
According to the Ars Technica story Pokemon party organizer: we’ve got no money and were sued without warning, party hosts at the Pax Prime gaming conference in Seattle were forced to abruptly cancel their Pokemon-themed party when lawyers for the Pokemon company filed a federal lawsuit. In the September 1 story, Joe Mullin quotes party host Ramar Jones: “Unfortunately, there was never a letter, a cease-and-desist or anything … We would have stopped it.” The story also reports on the potential hefty cost: “Copyright law allows for massive statutory damages, ranging up to $150,000 for willful infringement. Damages can apply even when the copyright owner didn’t suffer any harm.”

EFF Makes Case For Limited Copyright Terms To Benefit Current And Future Generation Of Creators. In a guest blog post Why Shouldn’t Copyright Be Infinite? about copyright term limitations and the potential extension to 70 years under the Trans-Pacific Partnership draft text, the Electronic Frontier Foundation demonstrates why balanced copyright is so important to creativity. Eric Crampton, Head of Research at the New Zealand Initiative, writes: “On the other side, too strong of copyright can surely kill new creation. Artistic works feed off each other. New works build on older traditions, reinterpreting old folk tales and old folk tunes for new generations.  But, ultimately, why should copyright be limited? Because current creators draw on a global commons in their artistic creations, and future generations of artists deserve a commons too.”