June 12, 2008

Whitehouse Backs Stronger Copyright Protections for Newport Boat Builders

New Legislation Prohibits Copying Vessel Hull and Deck Designs

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today cosponsored new Senate legislation aimed at strengthening copyright protections for boat designers in Newport and across the country.

“Newport’s boat design and building industry is known around the world for its skill and talent, and I’m proud to support this important industry through stronger design protections,” said Whitehouse, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Designers put hours of thought, technical expertise, and hard work into these vessels, and it’s simply wrong for someone else to steal their ideas. I hope the small changes we’ve introduced will help boat builders in Newport and around the country continue to produce exciting and innovative new designs.”

The marine trades industry makes up nearly two percent of New England’s total employment, employing nearly 40,000 people with an additional 69,000 jobs created indirectly. These jobs infuse $5.6 billion into the region’s economy.

Under the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act of 1998, which created specific copyright protection for boat hull design, the “hull” of a vessel was defined to consist of both the hull and the boat’s deck. As a result, infringers who copied the design of a boat’s hull but modified the design of the deck could still avoid liability.

The new legislation, introduced today by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), makes clear that both the design of a boat’s deck and that of its hull are each separately protected from copying.


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