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House Judiciary Committee Approves Bill on Copyright Register Selection

The House Judiciary Committee on March 29, 2017, marked up and approved legislation (H.R. 1695) to make the Register of Copyrights a Presidential appointee subject to Senate confirmation.
 
Introduced by Charman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va), the bill would also limit the Register’s service to a 10-year term, renewable by another Presidential nomination and Senate confirmation. AIPLA sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee in support of this legislation, stating that it is consistent with AIPLA's call for modernization of the Copyright Office.
 
Background
 
Under the current Section 701 of the Copyright Act, the Register of Copyrights serves as director of the Copyright Office, is appointed by the Librarian of Congress, and acts under the supervision of the Librarian of Congress. Former Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante testified to Congress in April of 2015 about the need for a modernized, independent Copyright Office to better serve the needs and expectations of the copyright community. As Rep. Goodlatte and the Committee continued an earlier initiated examination of the copyright system, a new Librarian of Congress was named, and former Register Pallante departed the Office.
 
Copyright Legislation Is Approved
 
The House Judiciary Committee on March 29, 2017, approved the “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017” (H.R. 1695) by a vote of 27-1. The legislation would amend Section 701(a) to state that “The Register of Copyrights shall be a citizen of the United States with a professional background and experience in copyright law and shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.”
 
The bill permits removal of the Register by the President upon notification to both the House and the Senate. It permits the Register to serve for a 10-year term, after which he or she may serve another term upon reappointed by the President and confirmation by the Senate. An amendment approved at the March 29 mark-up would create a panel to recommend three candidates for the President to consider for nomination. The panel would be composed of the Speaker of the House, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate, and the Librarian of Congress.
 
To read the bill as introduced, click here.