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Washington Outlook Archive
James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Coalition Supports Copyright Legislation

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Three textile trade associations have thrown their support behind a bill starting to move through Congress that would help protect copyrighted products from infringement.

The legislation, with the unlikely title of “Orphan Works Act,” will help close a loophole in existing laws that made it difficult or impossible to identify holders of copyrights. An orphan work is a product whose copyright is in effect, but may have been out of use for some time and, as a result, may not have appeared when a search is conducted. Copyright violations are among some of the major problems textile manufacturers face from overseas manufacturers.

The legislation, which has cleared a House subcommittee, is supported by the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, the National Textile Association (NTA) and the Decorative Fabrics Association.

Saying “an attack on the rights of textile copyright holders is an attack on US jobs,” Roger Berkley, CEO of Weave Corp., and chairman of NTA’s Upholstery Fabrics Committee, said the bill will allow for good-faith use of orphan works without compromising textile copyrights.

In another development related to protection of intellectual property rights, representatives of more than a dozen countries met in Geneva last week to discuss a proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement designed to come up with measures that would improve copyright law enforcement. Particular emphasis in the most recent round of talks focused on border protection and how to deal with large-scale intellectual property infringements, which can involve criminal elements and pose a threat to public health and safety. Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the US Trade Representative (USTR), said participants found the talks “useful” and are satisfied that they are making progress. The USTR has said addressing intellectual property violation is among the high priorities on the administration’s trade agenda.

June 11, 2008