Representatives Bob Goodlatte and John Conyers introduced a bill in the House of Representatives today that would increase transparency and Congressional oversight in the U.S. Copyright Office. The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act would change the selection process for the head of the U.S. Copyright Office, requiring that the Register of Copyrights be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The term of limits for the Register would be limited to 10 years, with the possibility of renewal by the president.
The act is the first policy proposal to come out of the House Judiciary Committee’s comprehensive review of U.S. copyright law, which began in 2013. During their review, the Committee conducted 20 hearings and listened to the testimony of 100 witnesses. The act is supported by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Diane Feinstein, and Sen. Patrick Leahy.
Sen. Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), has also expressed his support for the bill. In a statement, the Senator announced, “the legislation will enable the American people and all interested parties to provide input through their elected officials into the selection of the Register. Once this targeted legislation is enacted, Congress will be able to focus on the broader task of modernizing the Copyright Office.”
Other organizations that are in favor of the bill are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Free State Foundation, the Recording Academy, News Media Alliance, and the Software and Information Industry Association. The Recording Academy, an organization of musicians, producers, recording engineers and other recording professionals, said, “Copyright is a bedrock of our economy, and thus the selection of the Register of Copyrights is critical to creators and consumers. . . We applaud Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers for introducing legislation that would elevate the role of Register to a Presidential appointee.”
The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountablity Act signals Congress’s commitment to protecting IP rights and modernizing the agencies that administer those rights. The U.S. Copyright Office processes over 468,000 registrations in a year, protecting the innovation and creativity that drives the U.S. economy. By shedding light on the selection process for the Register of Copyrights, the act ensures that the individuals charged with leading the Copyright Office are qualified, efficient, and accountable to Congress.