© Image JD Ake
Any creator who has ever registered their copyright with the US Copyright Office or tried to search copyright records know the Office’s technology is outdated. We’ve long called for modernizing the Copyright Office. And as Congress reviewed the copyright laws over the last four years, it has realized that Copyright Office modernization is critical to making sure our copyright laws continue to work for all creators, big or small, as technology rapidly advances.
However, a big problem is that the Copyright Office is structurally unable to address the challenges of the 21st century since it lacks the ability to control its own budget, staffing, and IT. Instead, because it is a department within the Library of Congress, it has to defer to that body for these important functions. If the Register of Copyright becomes a Presidential appointee confirmed by the Senate, the Office will have greater say in how it operates and how it can improve its operations.
HR 1695 proposes making the Register of Copyrights a Presidential appointee, confirmed by the Senate. You may be asking yourself “why should I support this bill?” so below are some of the reasons you should support HR 1695 and encourage your Representative to vote yes.
- Copyright and the creative industries are important to our culture and economy. In fact, core copyright industries contribute over $1.2 trillion to the U.S. GDP and employ more than 5.5 million U.S. workers. Making the Register of Copyrights a Presidential Appointee subject to the Advice and Consent of the Senate reflects the growing importance of copyright to our economy and culture. Over 1,000 positions are filled this way, but the Register of Copyrights is not. Why?
- Right now, the Librarian of Congress can appoint a Register of Copyrights without any input from Congress, the creative communities, or the public. Making the Register a Presidential appointee confirmed by the Senate will give the public a voice in the selection process through their elected officials and ensures a more balanced and neutral selection process compared to the existing process. If there are concerns about a nominee for the Register position, this bill would allow those concerns to be voiced to Congress prior to confirmation. That opportunity does not exist today.
- Congress has historically enjoyed a direct line of communication with the Copyright Office for expert impartial advice on copyright law and policy, but recent changes to the organizational structure of the Library of Congress have disrupted that direct line. This bill would help to restore that direct line of communication and ensure Congress continues to receive the expert impartial advice it needs.
- The bill is widely supported amongst the copyright community and is supported by Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate. Not many pieces of legislation can boast such support.