Law School Alum Brito and Current Student Dooling Write Op-Ed for Wall Street Journal

Law School alumnus Jerry Brito ('05)and soon-to-be alumnae Bridget Dooling (May 2006) are the cowriters of a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece on the effect difficulty in obtaining copyright permissions has on our ability to preserve our cultural history (also known as the orphan works problem).

In the article, which is adapted from the current issue of the Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review, Brito and Dooling examine the problems inherent in attempts to preserve old or archival materials such as films, photographs, or writings for which the original ownership is untraceable when archivists fear an infringement action if they copy or distribute the works.

Jerry Brito is a legal fellow with the Mercatus Center and Bridget Dooling is editor in chief of the Federal Circuit Bar Journal and a final-semester student at the School of Law.

Who's Your Daddy?, Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2006. By Jerry Brito and Bridget C.E. Dooling.

"The Copyright Office recently issued a report about the orphan works problem, rekindling the legal debate and opening a precious window of opportunity for Congress to solve this problem. The House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property has also begun to hold hearings on orphan works. That's the good news -- but there's unfortunately a real chance that nothing will happen unless Congress keeps its focus narrow and resists being drawn into a broader copyright debate.

"This larger debate looms because some of the proposed solutions to the problem of orphan copyrights appear to target the U.S. copyright system generally. Congress has slowly increased the term of copyright protection from a maximum of 28 years when the founders wrote the first copyright act, to today's unwieldy life-plus-70 years. The longer the copyright term, the greater the number of works that can be orphaned. Additional, works today do not need to be registered to be copyrighted; your notepad doodlings are automatically protected. This means, however, that there is no central register in which to look up copyright owners."