From Nancy Wolff, DMLA Counsel
The new Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, has started the process of searching for a new Register of Copyrights after removing Maria Pallante as Register on October 21, 2016. DMLA, as well as the other visual artist associations, had worked with the former Register Pallante for six years on issues involving photography and the visual arts, and most recently on copyright modernization and potential legislation for a copyright small claims court in line with recommendations from the Copyright Office.
In an unprecedented move, the Library is seeking public comment by January 31, 2017 on the qualifications for the next Register of Copyrights: https://www.research.net/r/RegisterOfCopyrightsNR
Although this crowd sourcing approach to a government appointment is highly unusual, we encourage all interested parties to participate and to share this blog with any contributors, so the views of the licensing community and creators can be heard. From past experience we know that the tech community is very effective at organizing and sending the Copyright Office an overwhelming number of responses to copyright inquiries, and their interests in a Register would favor less copyright protection for creators.
The survey is not long and is limited to a few simple questions—namely, what qualities the Register should possess, what issues he or she should focus on, and what other factors should be considered. We encourage you to complete the survey before the January 31, 2017 deadline and distribute it widely.
DMLA has provided model responses to each of the survey’s questions based on suggestions from the Copyright Alliance. You are free to use all or some of these responses or provide your own responses. As the survey offers no background on what the responsibilities of the Register are or what public function the Copyright Office serves here is a link to background information on the role and responsibilities of the Copyright Office.
What are the knowledge, skills, and abilities you believe are the most important for the Register of Copyrights?
The next Register of Copyrights must:
- Be dedicated to both a robust copyright system and the Copyright Office;
- Recognize the important role that creators of copyrighted works and their representatives play in promoting our nation’s financial well-being;
- Be a lawyer with significant experience in, and a strong commitment to, the copyright law;
- Have management experience;
- Have a substantial background in representing the interests of creators and their representatives;
- Possess a deep appreciation for the special challenges facing individual creators and their licensing representatives in protecting works and encouraging licensing models over infringement;
- Possess a keen understanding of, and a strong commitment to, preserving the longstanding and statutorily-based functions of the Copyright Office, especially its advising the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on domestic and international copyright issues;
- Be an advocate within the government for creators and their licensing representatives (as no other agency plays this role);
- Have a vision for the Copyright Office of the future that supports the work of creators and is generally consistent with the views espoused by Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers in their November 2016 policy proposal;
- Be committed to modernizing the IT infrastructure of the Copyright Office;
- Have the solid support of the copyright community.
What should be the top three priorities for the Register of Copyrights?
- Continue the traditional and critical role of the Register as a forceful advocate for both a vibrant copyright system and a strong Copyright Office that works closely with the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in promoting a strong and effective copyright law.
- A commitment to moving quickly to modernize the Copyright Office with a special focus on updating and making more affordable and simpler the registration and recordation process, and to ensure that the Copyright Office and its modernization efforts are financed by means other than just registration and recordation fees.
- Working with Congress to achieve enactment of legislation creating a small claims process that finally provides creators and their representatives with a viable means of protecting their creative efforts and encouraging a licensing system rather than unauthorized use.
Are there other factors that should be considered?
[TO BE COMPLETED AS YOU SEE FIT]
The process of selecting the next Register must not be limited to responses in a single survey, as the importance of a qualified Register to the livelihood of creators and the industries that rely on a functioning Copyright Office and system is too important to be decided by crowd sourcing, particularly as anyone can respond to a survey, regardless of their experience as a user of the Copyright Office. It is also important that the views of the leaders of House and Senate Judiciary Committees, current Copyright Office staff, copyright practitioners, and former Registers be taken into account in the selection of the next Register.