New House Judiciary Committee Proposal Aims To Modernize Copyright Office

December 13, 2016

Recently, the House Judiciary Committee, led by Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and ranking committee member John Conyers (D-MI), issued a proposal to modernize the U.S. Copyright Office. The plan would target several different areas, including the appointment of the Registrar of Copyrights, overall structure of the Copyright Office, technological improvements, advisory committees and small claims.

The new plan proposes to retain the Copyright Office as part of the Legislative Branch in order to continue the Office’s role as advisor to Congress on copyright law and policy, but would provide to the Office greater autonomy over its general operations (namely budget and technology).  The plan would change the means by which the Registrar of Copyright would be selected; from the current structure whereby the Librarian of Congress appoints (and may remove) the Registrar to the nomination and consent process applicable to other senior government officials.

Technology is another major focus area within the plan. The committee supports the Copyright Office’s 5-year $165 million modernization initiative, and stresses the need for the Office to provide the public with a searchable digital database of historical and current copyright ownership information, offering various tiers of service to the public.

Other suggestions include the formation of private sector advisory committees to permit the Office to more effectively address rapid marketplace changes, and the implementation of a small claims process to address low value infringement cases, as has been outlined in an earlier report issued by the Copyright Office.

For more information visit the House Judiciary Committee website.