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H.R. 1695, The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act

Summary 

The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, authored 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. H.R. 1695 makes all future Registers of Copyrights within the Library of Congress subject to a Presidential nomination with the advice and consent of the Senate for a 10 year term. The bill will also create a Congressional panel to develop a nominee slate containing at least three names for the President to choose from. This ensures that Members have a more formal process for input into who is chosen as Register, similar to what is done for other Legislative Branch agency heads like the GAO and AOC. This bill retains a role for the Librarian in the selection process. On March 29, 2017, the House Judiciary Committee approved the bipartisan Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (H.R. 1695) by a vote of 27-1.

Since 2013, the House Judiciary Committee has been working on ways to improve the Copyright Office including making the Register a Presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed position in order to improve transparency, accountability, and efficiency at the Copyright Office.

A Bill that Democrats Support

Rep. Conyers is the lead Cosponsor of H.R. 1695. The bill passed the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 27-1 and was supported at markup by Democratic Reps. Conyers, Nadler, Jackson Lee, Cohen, Deutch, Bass, Jeffries, Swalwell, Lieu, Raskin, Jayapal, and Schneider.   The legislation is also supported by the leading Senate Judiciary Democrats, Ranking Member Feinstein and former Chairman Leahy. A full list of democratic supporters is available here.

Limits Presidential Authority and Increases Congressional Input 

An amendment offered by Rep. Jackson Lee in the Judiciary Committee limited presidential authority by creating a panel including the House and Senate Leadership in order to develop a consensus list of recommended candidates that the President is required to select from prior to Senate confirmation.  This is far preferable to current law which would allow the President to terminate the Librarian at will and install whomever he wanted as Copyright Register without any Senate confirmation process or any other input from Congress. This procedure and the Senate confirmation process will improve transparency by giving all Americans a voice in the selection of the Register through their elected representatives.

Enhances Librarian

H.R. 1695 does not undermine the Librarian of Congress, whom we all strongly support.  In 2013, long before Dr. Hayden was appointed to be Librarian of Congress, the Judiciary Committee began a comprehensive review of the Copyright Act and the Copyright Office. This four-year long process led to a broad consensus that the stature of the Register of Copyrights should be elevated and the position should be directly accountable to Congress.  Out of deference to the Librarian, the bill was further amended in Committee to ensure that she would be part of the panel that develops the consensus list of candidates.

Union and Stakeholder Endorsed

H.R. 1695 is supported by a wide range of stakeholders, including the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO); American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA); American Conservative Union; Americans for Tax Reform (ATR); Association of American Publishers (AAP); Authors Guild; Center for Individual Freedom; Consumer Alliance for a Strong Economy; Copyright Alliance; Council for Citizens Against Government Waste; CreativeFuture; Directors Guild of America (DGA); Free State Foundation; Frontiers of Freedom; Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA); Independent Women’s Forum; Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF); Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO); International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE); International Center for Law & Economics; Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA); National Association of Broadcasters (NAB); News Media Alliance; Oracle; Property Rights Alliance; Recording Academy; Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); SAG-AFTRA; Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA); Taxpayers Protection Alliance; US Chamber of Commerce; Content Creators Coalition.



Supporting Documents for H.R. 1695

More on H.R. 1695, The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act

Apr 26, 2017 Press Release

Washington, D.C. -- 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. 
 

Apr 26, 2017 Press Release

I rise today in strong support of H.R. 1695, the “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017.” 

As the lead Democratic cosponsor of this bipartisan and bicameral legislation, I am pleased that this bill passed the Judiciary Committee last month by a vote of 27 to 1.

This legislation represents sound public policy that will strengthen the copyright system.

To begin with, it has evolved directly from the bipartisan copyright review process that Chairman Goodlatte initiated back in 2013.

Apr 25, 2017 Press Release

The core copyright industries employ an estimated 5.5 million people, throughout all 50 states, and represent $1.2 trillion in GDP, almost 7 percent of the economy. Creators depend on the copyright laws, and a strong and independent Copyright Office.  Since 2013, the House Judiciary Committee has been working on ways to improve the Copyright Office including making the Register a Presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed position in order to improve transparency, accountability, and efficiency at the Copyright Office.

Mar 29, 2017 Press Release

Mr. Chairman – As you know, I am an original cosponsor and strong supporter of H.R. 1695, the “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017.”  This bipartisan and bicameral legislation was developed in collaboration with our Senate colleagues, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, and Senator Pat Leahy.  It is also the product of more than four years of hearings, and conversations with a wide range of stakeholders, who all wish to see a Copyright Office that is responsive to all stakeholders in the copyright ecosystem.

Mar 23, 2017 Press Release

Washington, D.C. -- House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr.