House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and committee member John Conyers (D-Mich.) have released a proposal that would give the U.S. Copyright Office more autonomy, although it would stay in the Legislative Branch of government. Most important, it would subject the Register of Copyrights, the highest copyright position in the U.S. government, to the same Congressional nomination process as other government officials. Currently, the Copyright Office is part of the Library of Congress, and the Register is selected by the Librarian of Congress, with no review from lawmakers.
The process for selecting the Register became a matter of considerable concern across the media and entertainment business in October, when the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, unceremoniously sidelined Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante, who subsequently resigned. Among the issues they disagreed about, according to several sources, was how much independence the Copyright Office should have. Hayden is perceived as being skeptical of copyright, and entertainment executives were concerned that she would have the sole authority to appoint a new Register.