Washington, D.C.—House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (H.R. 1695).
Chairman Goodlatte: The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017 fills a critical gap that currently exists in the selection process for all future Registers of Copyright. No Member on this Committee, nor in Congress would underestimate the importance of the copyright economy in America. The copyright economy is a key driver of our nation’s exports. Overseeing this sector is the Copyright Office, an entity whose large impact is far bigger than its small footprint.
Over the past several years, this Committee has heard from a range of perspectives about various concerns in copyright law, ranging from industry specific concerns to much broader ones, especially the Copyright Office itself. Since November 2014, the status and selection process for the Register position has been among these concerns.
The current vacancy within the Register’s Office is a timely one as we consider the Copyright Office of the future. But we should not hold up replacement of the Register to resolve the other issues that will take more time to address. So I and 29 of my colleagues introduced this legislation as a way to speed up consideration of this key component before other changes to the Copyright Office are made. We have also worked in tandem with the Senate Judiciary Committee whose bipartisan leaders share our concern that we need to act while the Register position is vacant.
With the enactment of this legislation, both the head of the Patent and Trademark Office and Copyright Office would be subject to a nomination and consent process. The lack of a nomination and consent process for the Register has led to repeated litigation that this legislation would finally resolve.
The legislation also creates matching 10-year terms of the Register of Copyrights and the Librarian of Congress. A 10-year term is sufficient for the next Register and all that follow to make major changes on Copyright Office operations without worrying about a short timespan to make those changes.
Since the Copyright Office is part of the Legislative Branch, I understand that an amendment will be offered to ensure that Members of Congress pick the slate of candidates from which the President must chose a nominee.
In addition to the strong support from within the Committee, I’m pleased to see more than 30 groups have issued statements of support for the legislation.
Without objection, I am adding a list of these supportive groups and their statements of support into the record.