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Patrick Leahy Reintroduces Bill to Give Copyright Parity to Same Sex Spouses

Patrick Leahy Same Sex Marriage Copyright
T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), now ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation on Tuesday to allow the surviving same sex spouse of a copyright owner to obtain rights to that creative content, regardless of whether they lived in a state where gay nuptials are recognized.

The bill is similar to one that Leahy introduced last year. The Copyright Act currently allows rights to revert to the spouse upon the death of a copyright holder, but only if the couple lived in a state where gay marriage is legal.

“Artists are part of the creative lifeblood of our nation, and our laws should protect their families equally,” Leahy said in a statement.

MPAA chairman Chris Dodd said, “We believe that copyright law should treat all marriages equally, and we support this bill.”

But with Republican control of Congress, prospects for the legislation are uncertain. A version is expected to be introduced in the House by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.). Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has been holding hearings with an eye toward updating the Copyright Act, but that process is expected to stretch over years.

Leahy was joined by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) in reintroducing the legislation.