Congressman Nadler Statement Supporting Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017

Mar 29, 2017 Issues: Civil Liberties, Jobs, Labor and the Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), senior Member of the House Judiciary Committee and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, spoke in support of the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017. The legislation concerning modernizing the Copyright Office passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 27 to 1 and will be reported to the House of Representatives.

Below are Rep. Nadler’s prepared remarks, delivered in support of H.R. 1695:

“Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of H.R. 1695, the “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017”.  Since 2013, under your leadership, along with Ranking Member Conyers, this Committee has undertaken a comprehensive review of the copyright laws and the Copyright Office.  Over the course of 20 hearings, with 100 witnesses, as well as listening sessions across the country, and individual meetings with a broad range of stakeholders, we have heard one consistent message: that the Copyright Office must be modernized to meet the needs of the public and the copyright community.

“This legislation is an important first step in that process.  Under current law, the Register of Copyrights, who leads the Copyright Office, answers solely to the Librarian of Congress.  As an institutional matter, this creates a conflict.  Libraries are a key stakeholder in the Copyright ecosystem, but they are just one of many stakeholders, each with different priorities and interests.  To place the fate of the Copyright Office in the hands of one interested party does a disservice to the copyright system it is charged with administering.

“H.R. 1695 would remedy this problem by making the Register of Copyrights a presidential appointment, subject to Senate confirmation, and setting a ten-year term for the position.  It would establish an open and transparent process for publicly vetting a nominee for Register, and provide a stronger means for Congress to provide meaningful oversight of the Copyright Office.  This is especially important in light of the historic role the Copyright Office has always played in providing independent advice to Congress on copyright matters.

“Each year, core copyright industries employ 5.5 million workers, produce $1.2 trillion in economic activity and generate roughly $180 billion in foreign sales.  They also promote a wide range of artistic expression and intellectual thought.  But maintaining this vibrant copyright ecosystem depends on having an effective Copyright Office to oversee it.  Throughout the copyright review process, it became evident that the current structure of the office has hindered the ability of the Office to serve the public and the copyright community effectively.

“The Copyright Office lacks autonomy over its budget, over its staffing, and over its technology needs.  Consequently, it has been unable to implement the modernization plan that it needs in order to function properly in the 21st Century.  This bill would make the Register more responsive and accountable to Congress, but it is just the first step in a process that will provide the Copyright Office with more flexibility and independence.

“I appreciate all of the efforts of Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers in bringing this bill forward today, and I urge my colleagues to support it.”