House Overwhelmingly Passes Bipartisan Legislation on Selection Process for Copyright Register

The House of Representatives today approved by a vote of 378-48 the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (H.R. 1695).  This bipartisan bill – introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) — makes important changes to the selection process for the head of the U.S. Copyright Office, known as the Register of Copyrights.

Specifically, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act creates a selection panel made up of Members of Congress and the Librarian of Congress.  This panel would be tasked with submitting a list of at least three qualified individuals to the President for his or her consideration. The President would nominate an individual from the selection panel’s list and that individual would be subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.  The legislation also limits the Register to a 10-year term which is renewable by another Presidential nomination and Senate confirmation.

Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers praised today’s approval of the bill in the statement below.

“The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act is one product of the House Judiciary Committee’s multi-year comprehensive review of our copyright laws.  This bipartisan review, which began under the tenure of the former Librarian of Congress in April 2013, has been focused on ensuring our copyright laws keep pace in the digital age and has included much discussion on the merits of giving the Copyright Office more autonomy with respect to the Library of Congress.

“While this legislation represents an important first step in the Committee’s efforts to update our nation’s copyright laws, we remain committed to working with all members and stakeholders to take additional steps to ensure the U.S Copyright Office is modernized so that it functions efficiently and effectively for all Americans.”

Background: Chairman Goodlatte first announced the House Judiciary Committee’s intention to undertake a comprehensive review of U.S. copyright law on April 24, 2013, in a speech before the World Intellectual Property Day celebration at the Library of Congress.  As part of the copyright review, the House Judiciary Committee held 20 hearings which included testimony from 100 witnesses.  Following these hearings, Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers invited all prior witnesses of the Committee’s copyright review hearings and other interested stakeholders to meet with Committee staff and provide additional input on copyright policy issues.  In addition, the House Judiciary Committee conducted a listening tour with stops in Nashville, Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles where they heard from a wide range of creators, innovators, technology professionals, and users of copyrighted works. In December 2016, Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers released the first policy proposal to come out of the Committee’s review of U.S. copyright law.  Additional policy proposals will be released.

More information on the House Judiciary Committee’s comprehensive copyright review can be found here.

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