The bipartisan bill, which was introduced by senator and house judiciary committee chair Bob Goodlatte last month, was approved by a vote of 378 to 48 yesterday (26 April).
Under the bill, the head of the Copyright Office, known as the register of copyrights, would become a presidential appointee, and terms would be limited to 10 years.
Goodlatte said that the bill is “focused on ensuring [US] copyright laws keep pace in the digital age and has included much discussion on the merits of giving the Copyright Office more autonomy with respect to the Library of Congress.
“While this legislation represents an important first step in the committee’s efforts to update our nation’s copyright laws, we remain committed to working with all members and stakeholders to take additional steps to ensure the US Copyright Office is modernised so that it functions efficiently and effectively for all Americans.”
Opinion on the changes has been mixed, with several organisations applauding its introduction, while others have claimed it is “hard to imagine” 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.
The Copyright Office has long been a target of reform. Goodlatte and the House judiciary committee have been seeking reform since 2013.