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Guild Responds to Representatives’ Copyright Office Reform Proposal

On January 31 the Authors Guild filed written comments in response to a December policy proposal released by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI). The proposal, which is the first to come out of the Committee’s review of U.S. copyright law, maintains that the structure and technology capacity of the Copyright Office are insufficient to meet the needs of a 21st-century copyright system, and that “a significant investment of funds and changes to how the Office operates” is needed.

Our comments underscored that the Copyright Office is currently the only U.S. government agency dedicated to serving the interests of our nation’s creative workers. In a time when the livelihoods of these creative workers are increasingly besieged, it is more important than ever that they have a robust, modern, and efficient government agency to serve their interests. Among other things, we supported the policy proposal’s recommendations that the Register of Copyrights should be subject to a Presidential nomination and Senate confirmation process with a 10-year term limit, with the potential for re-nomination; that the Copyright Office must have autonomy from the Library of Congress when it comes to funding and implementing its technology infrastructure; and that the Copyright Office’s registration and recordation system, still largely paper-based, must become fully integrated, digital, and searchable. We also emphasized that the Copyright Office, as the seat of government copyright expertise, must have the authority to promulgate copyright regulations independent from Library of Congress oversight.

Read our full comments below.

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