Proposal on Copyright Office Reform

Washington, D.C. – Today House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) released the first policy proposal to come out of the Committee’s review of U.S. Copyright law.  This first proposal identifies important reforms to help ensure the Copyright Office keeps pace in the digital age.  With the release of this document, the Committee requests written comments from interested stakeholders by January 31, 2017.  These comments will be shared with members of the House Judiciary Committee as they come in and the Committee intends to make comments publicly available after the comment period closes.

Written comments can be submitted here: copyright.comments@mail.house.gov

Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers released the following statement via video:

“We would like to take a few minutes to share with you our plan for the next stage of the House Judiciary Committee’s review of our nation’s copyright laws. For years now, we have deliberately listened – through hearings, listening sessions, and site visits – to the views and concerns of stakeholders from all sides of the copyright debate. 

“Now, it is time to move forward into the next stage.  We intend to periodically release policy proposals on select, individual issue areas within the larger copyright system that are in need of reform where there is a potential for consensus.  These policy proposals are not meant to be the final word on reform in these individual issue areas, but rather a starting point for further discussion by all stakeholders, with the goal of producing legislative text within each issue area.

“Today, we are releasing our first policy proposal, which identifies reforms to modernize the Copyright Office so that it can meet the challenges of the 21st Century.  Among the reforms in this document are granting the Copyright Office autonomy with respect to the Library of Congress, requiring the Copyright Office to maintain an up-to-date digital, searchable database of all copyrighted works and associated copyright ownership information, and many others reforms. 

“Nothing should be read into the fact that we are only releasing a policy proposal on one topic today. This is just the beginning of this stage of the copyright review, and we intend to release policy proposals on music licensing issues and other individual issue areas in time.

“But this is not a one way street.  We need your help to turn these policy proposals into legislation.  It is only through the input of all interested parties that agreements can be successfully achieved. 

“Thank you to everyone who has participated in the copyright review, and we look forward to continuing to work with you to improve our nation’s copyright system.”

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 has 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.  More information on the House Judiciary Committee’s comprehensive copyright review can be found here.

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