Washington DC
28 March 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Industry groups comment on copyright leadership bill

The US Chamber of Commerce has welcomed a government bill that could make the head of the US Copyright Office a presidential appointee.

Legislation was introduced by the House of Representatives judiciary committee last week (23 March).

Mark Elliot, executive vice president of the Global Intellectual Property Center at the US Chamber of Commerce, said that innovative and creative industries are “encouraged by Congress’s commitment to the ongoing process to modernise the US Copyright Office”.

“We applaud congressional leaders on the introduction of this bipartisan bill as an important first step in this process, and we will continue to work with them as they seek to strengthen and improve our nation’s Copyright Office.”

Oracle, the cloud applications company that has been involved in a long running copyright dispute with Google over Java application interfaces, commended politicians for the introduction of the bill.

The bill is an “important first step in a series of needed reforms that will empower the Copyright Office to better serve the public interest and meet the constitutional mandate to ‘promote the progress of science and useful arts’”.

Not all reaction to the new bill has been positive. The Library Copyright Alliance called the legislation “mystifying”.

“Why Congress would voluntarily cede its own confirmed librarian’s authority to select and oversee a key congressional adviser on copyright matters to the executive branch is hard to imagine.”

“It's also difficult to understand how the public or Congress itself would benefit from politicisation of the register of copyrights's position by making it subject to presidential appointment and Senate confirmation, as this legislation proposes.”

It added: “Such politicisation of the position necessarily would result in a register more actively engaged in policy development than in competent management and modernisation.”

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