Makes Register a Presidential Appointment with Senate Confirmation

Washington, D.C. — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) today introduced the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, which is the product of months of bicameral, bipartisan discussions led by Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Senate Judiciary Committee Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act makes important changes to the selection process for the head of the U.S. Copyright Office, known as the Register of Copyrights.  Specifically, the legislation requires the Register to be nominated by the President of the United States and subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.  It would also limit the Register to a ten year term which is renewable by another Presidential nomination and Senate confirmation.  

Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Senator Leahy released the following joint statement upon introduction of the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act.

“We are pleased to join together in a bipartisan, bicameral effort to make important and necessary improvements to the selection process for the position of Register of Copyrights. We remain absolutely committed to working on modernizing the Copyright Office. Reforms being considered include public advisory committees, improvements to Copyright Office systems for data inputs and outputs, and copyright ownership transparency.  However, time is of the essence when it comes to the selection process for a new Register of Copyrights.

“America’s creativity is the envy of the world and the Copyright Office is at the center of it.  With the current Register serving only on an acting basis, now is the time to make changes to ensure that future Registers are transparent and accountable to Congress.  We must ensure that any new Register is a good manager and fully qualified to lead and make this office more operationally effective as he or she continues to directly advise Congress on copyrights. The next Register of Copyrights should be dedicated to serving all stakeholders in the copyright ecosystem.”  

The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act was introduced with twenty-nine bipartisan cosponsors.

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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