Washington, D.C. — The House Judiciary Committee today approved the bipartisan Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (H.R. 1695) by a vote of 27-1.

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.  Specifically, the legislation creates a selection panel made up of Members of Congress and the Librarian of Congress.  This panel would be tasked with submitting a list of at least three qualified individuals to the President for his or her consideration. Finally, the President would nominate an individual from the selection panel’s list and that individual would be subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.  The legislation also limits the Register to a ten year term which is renewable by another Presidential nomination and Senate confirmation and notes that the Register can only be removed for cause.

Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers praised today’s approval of the bill in the statement below.

“Over the last few years we have been working together in a bipartisan fashion to review our copyright laws.  This initiative is designed to determine whether the laws are still working in the digital age to reward creativity and innovation.  While we are fully committed to continuing the work of our copyright review and our efforts to modernize the Copyright Office, there is an immediate need when it comes to the selection process for the next Register of Copyrights.  While this is only the first initial legislative step, as always we remain open to working with every member and every stakeholder at every step of the way – including the Leadership on both sides of the aisle — as we continue to enhance our Committee’s work.   

“In the past, the authority of the Copyright Office to conduct rule makings has been challenged in the courts because the Register is not currently Presidentially-appointed. This bipartisan legislation would put to rest, once and for all, that question, and ensures that the Register is accountable to Congress.”

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.