The U.S. House of Representatives today voted 378 to 48 to pass a controversial bill that would make the Register of Copyrights a presidential appointee. H.R. 1695, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017, will effectively strip the Librarian of Congress of oversight over the Register, and is likely to increase industry influence over an already highly politicized office. The bill does nothing to improve the functioning of the Copyright Office, nor to fix any of the serious problems with copyright law, including its excessive and unpredictable penalties.
We’re disappointed that so many in Congress chose to put the interests of powerful media and entertainment industries above those of the public as a whole, but the fight isn’t over yet. We’re urging the Senate to oppose the bill, and to push back against industry calls for an even more partisan Copyright Office.
We applaud the Members of Congress who stood up for the readers, Internet users, consumers, and innovators who all rely on a balanced copyright system, including Rep. Jared Polis and Rep. Zoe Lofgren. Here’s what they had to say:
Rep. Jared Polis:
yet again through this bill, Congress is choosing big, powerful interests over the consumers, over innovation, and over the little guy. . . this bill unfortunately does not solve the problem with copyright. It makes the situation worse because it slows down a desperately needed modernization indefinitely, and would hurt the public and consumers.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren:
Mr. Polis had mentioned the view of the Electronic Frontier Foundation that this would enhance special interests. What they’ve actually said, and I think it’s very pertinent, is that the bill would allow powerful incumbent interests to use their lobbying power to control this increasingly politicized office. No president is going to select an appointee who will be shut down by the special interests . . . We don’t want a partisan for one side of the issue. We want somebody who can run, in an efficient way, the Copyright Office.
We couldn’t agree more, and we’ll continue to fight this bill as it comes before the Senate.