American Law Institute Restatement on Copyright

What You Need To Know: The American Law Institute (ALI) is crafting its first “Restatement” on an area of law otherwise governed by statute: copyright. The ALI has a long history of issuing non-legally binding treatises used by attorneys and judges in areas of law that lack unifying principles and or legislative statutes. Copyright is governed by Federal statute, and most case law in the area is eventually addressed by the Supreme Court.

Over the next three to five years, the ALI will draft various sections of this “Restatement” and vote on their inclusion. The committee tasked with crafting this ALI-first is populated with scholars and practitioners who lean heavily towards “copyleft” beliefs.

MAC’s Perspective: The ALI risks nearly one hundred years of well-earned authority and independence in attempting to rewrite Copyright in “Restatement” form. The U.S. Congress regularly examines and updates The Copyright Act, a Federal statute that originates from the earliest days of our Republic. Drafting a one-sided, artist-unfriendly document behind a shroud of secrecy serves neither the creator community nor the legal profession. The ALI is misguided in its efforts to redefine Copyright, and the chapters unveiled so far cause great concern.

As part of MAC’s watchdog efforts, we have joined like-minded organizations to call upon the ALI to open their process to a representative body of attorneys, scholars, and creators, and ensure that the long-established rule of law is upheld. We will continue to monitor the ALI’s efforts and call attention to the deficiencies of any proposed “Restatement.”