Copyright & Marriage Equality Act Introduced In Senate

by Kevin Erickson, Communications Associate
Last month, we let you know about a new bill introduced in the House of Representatives that would amend the Copyright Act to treat all married couples equally. Now Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), has introduced a version of this bill in the Senate, where he serves as chair of the Judiciary Committee. His rationale: “Artists are the creative lifeblood of our nation, and our laws should protect their families equally.”

The Copyright and Marriage Equality Act, introduced into the Senate on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 would fix a loophole in the current Copyright Act. Concurrent with the bill’s introduction, Senator Leahy also published an op-ed in The Hollywood Reporter, giving some background on the bill:

Surprisingly, the Copyright Act, which protects our nation’s diverse creative voices, bears vestiges of discrimination. A provision in the act grants rights to surviving spouses of copyright owners only if the marriage is recognized in the owner’s state of residence at the time he or she dies. This means a writer who lawfully marries his or her same-sex partner in Vermont or California is not a “spouse” under the Copyright Act if they move to Florida, Georgia or one of the other states that do not recognize marriage equality. 
For musicians, composers, and other creators, this glitch in the law could mean that some couples enjoy protections that others are denied. As Leahy argues:
Congress should close this discriminatory loophole to ensure our federal statutes live up to our nation’s promise of equality under the law. Following the Supreme Court’s invalidation of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, and more recent progress for marriage equality in states throughout the country, it is wrong for the federal government to deny benefits or privileges to same- sex couples who have lawfully wed.
One of the best things about copyright is that it is intended to afford the same protections to all creators, and we view this small but important legislative fix as helping copyright better fulfill its purpose, and as a straightforward matter of basic fairness. We applaud Senator Leahy for his leadership on this issue. You can read the full text of the bill here, and keep track of the bill’s progress by watching our legislative tracker.
Photo via Shutterstock
Submitted by kevin on November 12, 2014 - 9:43pm


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