Congress is considering a new bill to change the way the head of the Copyright Office is appointed. Under the new legislation - H.R. 1695 - the Register of Copyrights would be nominated by the President subject to confirmation by the Senate.
How would this be different from current law? Currently, the Register of Copyrights is appointed by the Librarian of Congress, serves under the Librarian, and as we saw last November, can be removed at will by the Librarian.
Why does this matter? Let's review:
- On October 21, 2016, the previous Register of Copyrights was summarily removed by the newly-appointed Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden.
- Dr. Hayden is a well-known promoter of Open Access, and appears committed to the goal of making Internet content free.
- Many in the creative community believe she was appointed because she is a political activist whose views would serve the interests of the Big Internet firms currently lobbying for open access, orphan works legislation, etc.
The proposed legislation would limit the Register to a 10-year term that can be renewed by the same process; and it would give the President the authority to remove the Register at any time.
How do I write my Congressperson? Go to this link and enter your zip code and/or address. It will take you to a site with a picture of your representative and a link for emailing him or her.
April __, 2017
The Honorable ________,
Dear Representative __________
As a constituent, I am writing to ask you to vote "yes" on H.R. 1695, the "Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017."
I ask this because copyright protection is extremely important to me, both as a professional artist and as a private citizen.
As an artist, I rely on copyright law to protect the intellectual property that I license to make a living, as well as to preserve the sanctity of contracts that I enter into with my clients. Without the full protections of current copyright law there would be massive uncertainty in the commercial markets that serve the multi-billion dollar licensing industry I work in.
And as an ordinary citizen, copyright law is equally important to me, because without it, any work I ever put on the Internet - on a Facebook page, church or school website, political website, etc. - would all be in danger of becoming orphaned content, free for unknown parties to harvest, commercialize and monetize for their own profit and benefit, without concern for my privacy or professional interests.
The bill is scheduled for a Rule's Committee meeting tomorrow and will likely be voted on by the House in the next few days. From there it will move to the Senate. Please act now.