ArticlesVolume 36, No. 3 (2013)

The Next Great Copyright Act

Thorvald Solberg was the first and longest serving Register of Copyrights. He seems inspired in his portrait, and for good reason. Solberg was a visionary leader, a champion of authors’ rights, and an early advocate for the United States’ adherence to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (“Berne Convention”). Under his care, the Copyright Office grew from a handful of employees to more than one hundred professional staff and took on the many roles that are still critical to the mission of the Office today. Solberg and his team administered the copyright registration system, managed the public records of copyright information, facilitated the delivery of books and other copyright deposits to the Library of Congress (the “Library”), served as substantive experts within the U.S. government, provided policy advice to Congress, and represented the United States at international meetings. He was Register during the revision process that led to the 1909 Act, in which copyright term was extended to a total period of fifty-six years subject to renewal registration, but he broached the subject of automatic protection as early as the 1920s.