President Reagan signed legislation Monday to expand copyright protection of U.S.-produced literary and artistic works, calling the event “a watershed for us.”
Reagan signed the 1988 Berne Convention Implementation Act at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in a ceremony attended by congressmen and members of the artistic community who had worked to get the legislation passed.
Reagan’s signature allows the United States to join a 102-year-old international copyright treaty, a development hailed by the new law’s supporters.
Rep. Carlos J. Moorhead (R-Glendale), who attended the ceremony, said the practical effect of the law will be to encourage more investment in ventures such as movies, which could “create a lot of jobs for us.”
Reagan said that the law will provide U.S. artists protection from “international pirates who make their living by stealing and then selling the creative accomplishments of others.”
Some film makers, particularly the Directors Guild of America, had pressed for a “moral rights” provision in the legislation that would have protected their films against colorization and other forms of alteration. However, they failed in their effort to include the provision.
On Monday, Directors Guild spokesman Charles Warn called that exclusion “a travesty.” He added that the works of non--American artists in the United States “will not be protected from mutilation.”
But, Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, which represents the studios, said, “There was no need to add any amendment to this bill.”
Warn said that other countries have adopted “moral rights” protection in the connection with the Berne Convention.
Seventy-seven countries already have subscribed to the treaty and U.S. membership will grant this country copyright relations with another 24 nations.
The President called the law especially significant because Americans involved in the creation of books, recordings, movies, computer software and other works have been at risk because of differences between U.S. law and the 1886 Berne Convention.
The entertainment industry alone may have lost $2 billion in potential revenue in 1986 because of pirating, Reagan said. And, he said, the computer and software industries may have lost $4 billion in potential revenue.
“That’s why adherence to the Berne Convention has been such an important goal of the Administration and why this occasion marks a watershed for us,” he said.