November 20, 2017

Intellectual Property: “New Bill Would Let Trump Pick the Next Register of Copyrights”

UPDATE April 26 House Passes Copyright Reform Bill [HR 1695], Register of Copyright Would Become a Presidential Appointee (via Multichannel News)

The bill passed by a large margin, 378 to 48, but must still pass the Senate.

Currently the register is an appointment of and reports to the Librarian of Congress and has no term limit.

See Also: Final Vote Results (via House.gov)

Statements

Statement From ALA: ALA Urges Senate To Reject Bill To Make Register Of Copyrights A Presidential Appointee

Statement From EFF: Register of Copyrights Bill Passes the House, We’re Gearing Up to Fight it in the Senate

Statement From Library Copyright Alliance: National Library Groups Urge Senate To “Reject” Bill To Make Register Of Copyrights a Presidential Appointee

Statement From Association From American Publishers: Publishers Commend House of Representatives in Landmark Step for U.S. Copyright System (via APA)

Statement from MPAA MPAA Chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd on the Passage of the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act in the House

 MORE TO COME

UPDATE March 30 2017   ‘Register of Copyrights’ Bill Quickly Passes Out of Committee” [27-1 Vote] (by Andrew Albanese, PW)
Includes statements from committee members, Public Knowledge and EFF.

Watch the Markup Session (March 29, 2017)
The video begins when the bill (HR 1695) is called. 

Track the Legislation

UPDATE: The legislation reported on below has been assigned the number H.R. 1695.

UPDATE: Read the Full Text of the Legislation (PDF)

UPDATE: We’ve added the full text of a statement from the Library Copyright Alliance at the bottom of this post. 

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From Andrew Albanese at Publisher’s Weekly:

With a search for the next Register of Copyrights currently underway, a bill introduced in Congress yesterday would let Donald Trump make that appointment, rather than Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

On March 23, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) introduced the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, which would give the President the power to appoint the Register of Copyrights for a 10 year, renewable term, subject to Senate confirmation. The President would also have the power to fire the Register at any time.

Read the Complete PW Article (657 Words)

From Billboard: “How the Battle Over Control of the U.S. Copyright Office Could Affect the Music Industry”

Now, as Hayden moves forward with her plan to choose a new Register, lawmakers are preparing to take away her authority to do so with a bill that is expected to be introduced within the next several days. At a March 1 meeting, several Senators and Representatives asked Hayden to wait before making the appointment, according to two sources, since they were planning to introduce a bill to make the position a presidential appointee.

But in a March 7 letter to Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy(D-Vt.) as well as Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.), Hayden said she planned to proceed anyway. “This office needs permanent leadership with the authority and responsibility to move forward on our shared objective of a modernized office,” Hayden wrote in the letter, which was shared with Billboard.

Read the Complete Billboard Article

 

From Bloomberg BNA

The bill doesn’t include provisions to shift the office outside the Library of Congress. Rep. Thomas A. Marino (R-Pa.) re-introduced Feb. 6 the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act (H.R. 890) that aims to split the Copyright Office from the Library of Congress.

Read the Complete Bloomberg BNA Article

Additional Resources

See Also: Track the Bill (via GovTrack.us)

See Also: List of 29 Co-Sponsors of Bill (PDF)

Statements/Comments

Statement From House Judiciary Committee:  “Goodlatte, Conyers, Grassley, Feinstein, Leahy Call for Quick Action on Legislation to Provide Selection Process for Register of Copyrights”

Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Senator Leahy released the following joint statement upon introduction of the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act.

“We are pleased to join together in a bipartisan, bicameral effort to make important and necessary improvements to the selection process for the position of Register of Copyrights. We remain absolutely committed to working on modernizing the Copyright Office. Reforms being considered include public advisory committees, improvements to Copyright Office systems for data inputs and outputs, and copyright ownership transparency.  However, time is of the essence when it comes to the selection process for a new Register of Copyrights.

“America’s creativity is the envy of the world and the Copyright Office is at the center of it.  With the current Register serving only on an acting basis, now is the time to make changes to ensure that future Registers are transparent and accountable to Congress.  We must ensure that any new Register is a good manager and fully qualified to lead and make this office more operationally effective as he or she continues to directly advise Congress on copyrights. The next Register of Copyrights should be dedicated to serving all stakeholders in the copyright ecosystem.”

Read the Complete Statement

From the Library Copyright Alliance (Full Text)

Yesterday evening the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee introduced legislation entitled the “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017.” The bill would make the position of the Register of Copyrights subject to Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation. Under current law (17 USC 701), the Librarian of Congress selects the Register.

The Library Copyright Alliance, a group of national library organizations collectively representing more than 120,000 libraries in the United States and serving an estimated 200 million patrons annually, released the following statement in response:

The “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act” is mystifying. Why Congress would voluntarily cede its own confirmed Librarian’s authority to select and oversee a key Congressional advisor on copyright matters to the Executive Branch is hard to imagine.

It’s also difficult to understand how the public or Congress itself would benefit from politicization of the Register of Copyrights’ position by making it subject to presidential appointment and Senate confirmation, as this legislation proposes. Such politicization of the position necessarily would result in a Register more actively engaged in policy development than in competent management and modernization.

Politicizing the process of appointing the next Register would severely delay his or her installation. That would be poor business practice and would slow implementa­tion of much needed technological reform. The pressing needs of the Copyright Office, which are well documented, require that a new and qualified Register be appointed as soon as possible. The many constituencies in the public and private sectors that depend on the Copyright Office simply cannot afford what could easily be a year’s delay before a new Register can take the helm were this bill to become law.

Lastly, the proposed 10-year term would lead to less accountability to Congress and the public. That contradicts the stated intent of the bill made plain in its title.

LCA thus opposes the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act and urges all members of Congress to do the same.

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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