After visiting Capitol Hill, where we spent the entire time speaking to policymakers about the importance of copyright to the creative communities, we are gravely concerned.
Last month, in a positive step for creatives, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), along with 29 co-sponsors, introduced the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (H.R. 1695). Last week, the bill passed the House Judiciary Committee with a virtually unprecedented, bipartisan, 27-1 vote….
However, there are some politicians with deep relationships to those who benefit from a weak copyright system that are casting partisan aspersions in an attempt to sabotage the bill. This ignores that members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, in both the House and Senate, have been working on this issue for years, including under the last Administration.
The Copyright Office’s role is far more than a ministerial one intended to serve the collection needs of the Library of Congress. While some may have you believe that the Copyright Office does little more than administer the registration and recordation systems, this is patently false. The Office plays the critical role of advisor to Congress and the Executive Branch on copyright law and policy – meaning that the Office is the in-house expert on legislation that can deeply affect the job stability of more than 5.5 million hardworking Americans.
To be sure, the Library of Congress has a mission of national importance. But that mission gives it a particular view of copyright that differs from the Copyright Office. The Copyright Office is charged with effectuating the constitutionally enshrined notion that protecting creatives’ rights over how their content is disseminated promotes the creation and wide distribution of knowledge and creativity, to everyone’s benefit. It is no secret that libraries have a vested interest in loosening copyright laws to reduce their cost to access and distribute copyrighted works. The current structure, which makes the Register of Copyrights a subordinate officer within the Library, prevents the Copyright Office from working in the best interests of the creative industry and the public at large.