Senate Introduces Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act (S. 1010)

As the House of Representatives version of the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017 passed the House on April 26, a version of that House bill was duly introduced in the Senate on May 2 as Senate Bill 1010.

The Senate bill is identical to the House bill and is sponsored by Senate luminaries Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), former chairmen Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Remember that the House bill  passed with an extraordinarily lopsided bipartisan vote of 378-48 demonstrating broad support for the purpose of the bill:   to elevate the position of the head of the Copyright Office to a Presidential appointment (confirmed by the Senate), thus making the office comparable to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and certain other legislative branch positions.  The “Register of Copyrights” is currently (and historically) appointed by the Librarian of Congress as would a more junior job, but the Congress decided to upgrade the position after recent controversy illuminated the benefit of that most justified disruption.

The Senate bill was read twice and referred to the Senate Rules Committee (which has direct jurisdiction over the Library of Congress).  If no amendments are offered in the Senate, S 1010 can proceed straight to the President for signature.

Elevating the Register of Copyrights to a Presidential appointment is a long overdue first step toward modernizing the Copyright Office and allowing it to innovate separately from the extraordinary management weaknesses at the Library of Congress identified by the Government Accountability Office in its 2015 report (“Library of Congress Needs to Implement Recommendations to Address Management Weaknesses“).

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