In light of last week’s passage of House bill H.R. 1695, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017 this blog spot offers three articles and a blog post gleaned from Against the Grain that illustrate the problems of politicizing this key Copyright position, traditionally appointed and managed by the Librarian of Congress.
As illustrated in “A Worrisome Harbinger of Changes in Copyright Law” from the Chronicle, in addition to H.R. 1695, there are two more bills on the horizon:
Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act (H.R.4241) and the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2016 (H.R.5757), expected to be re-introduced as part of the copyright-reform movement.
H.R. 4241: “This bill establishes the U.S. Copyright Office as a separate independent agency in the legislative branch, to be headed by a Director appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. (Currently, the Copyright Office is part of the Library of Congress [LOC] and is headed by the Register of Copyrights.)”
H.R.5757: “This bill establishes in the U.S. Copyright Office a small claims board to serve as an alternative forum for parties to voluntarily seek to resolve certain copyright claims if the total monetary recovery sought by a party does not exceed $30,000.”
All three legislative initiatives could have wide-ranging implications for academic institutions, starting with making the Register of Copyrights a Presidential political appointee, the move that just passed the House last week.
Notably from “Big Content Cheers as Congress Votes on Changes to US Copyright Office” (an article posted in Ars Technica) opponents to these measures cite this concern among others:
“Special interests will be involved in picking the person who makes decisions over copyright,” said Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) during debate today on the House floor. “Congress is choosing big powerful interests over consumers, over innovation, and over the little guy.”
Further reading on this important development to watch: