After passing in the U.S. House easily, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017 was just introduced to the Senate and, if passed, will modernize the copyright office and help allow it to develop apart from the Library of Congress.
Guest post by Chris Castle of Music Tech Solutions
As the House of Representatives version of the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017 passed the House on April 26 with an extraordinarily lopsided bipartisan vote of 378-48, a version of that House bill was introduced in the Senate on May 2 as Senate Bill 1010. The Senate bill is identical to the House bill and is sponsored by Senate luminaries Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), former chairmen Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
Remember that the purpose of the bill is to elevate the position of the head of the Copyright Office to a Presidential appointment (confirmed by the Senate) which is comparable to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and comparable legislative branch positions. The “Register of Copyrights” is currently (and historically) appointed by the Librarian of Congress, but the Congress decided to upgrade the position after recent controversy illuminated the benefit of that most justified disruption.
The Senate bill was read twice and referred to the Senate Rules Committee (which has direct jurisdiction over the Library of Congress). If no amendments are offered in the Senate, the bill can proceed straight to the President for signature.
Elevating the Register of Copyrights to a Presidential appointment is a long overdue first step toward modernizing the Copyright Office and allowing it to innovate separately from the extraordinary management weaknesses at the Library of Congress identified by the Government Accountability Office in its 2015 report (“Library of Congress Needs to Implement Recommendations to Address Management Weaknesses“).