21 Apr Contact your Representative and ask them to vote YES on H.R. 1695
The Graphic Artists Guild is calling upon visual artists and those who support a vibrant creative community to contact their representatives and ask them to support H.R. 1695. The bill seeks to make the Register of Copyrights, currently appointed by the Librarian of Congress, a presidential appointee with a 10-year term with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Guild has long supported giving the Copyright Office greater autonomy and modernizing the Office. The current registration system is cumbersome, outdated and confusing. Modernizing the Copyright Office is key for creators seeking to protect their copyrights and derive an income from their work. This bill is the first step to achieving that goal.
The bill is coming up for consideration in the House the week of April 24th. Please show your support for this bill by contacting your representative as soon as possible. You can do so easily by visiting copyrightdefense.com. The website will permit you to enter inyour zip code to contact your representative by email and telephone, and supplies talking points for you to refer to.
Copyright and creative industries are increasingly important to the US economy, contributing over $1.2 trillion dollars to the US GDP. Despite this, the Copyright Office has languished with outdated technology. It has no autonomy over its budget and staffing, which are determined by the Library of Congress. IT problems at the Library resulted in a system outage that brought down the Copyright Office’s registration system for one week in 2015. A report by the Government Accountability Officelisted numerous technological problems at the Office exacerbated by the Library’s IT management weakness. The Library has not pursued the implementation of a comprehensive IT modernization planfor the Copyright Office brought out by the previous Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallente.
Additionally, the Register of Copyrights is unilaterally selected Librarian of Congress, although the missions of the Library and the Office are different and sometimes conflict. The Register of Copyrights is statutorily required to advise Congress on copyright law – a function of increasing importance as copyright law is under review – and yet the Register is appointed solely at the discretion of the Librarian. H.R. 1695 gives Congress the opportunity vet candidates for Register of Copyrights and ensures it will receive the expert advice it needs.
H.R. 1695 has wide bi-partisan support. It was introduced by House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), and passed the House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 27-1. Support for the bill has been expressed by members of Congress from both parties, and from stakeholders and experts, including former Registers of Copyright Ralph Oman and MaryBeth Peters. The creative community has by and large welcomed the legislation, as indicated by a letter signed by over 40 associations, industry groups, and business leaders (including the Guild).
Support for H.R. 1695:
“Creators, Please act now. Tell Congress to Vote “Yes” on H.R. 1695.” – American Photographic Artists
“ASMP, along with other organizations, unions, and guilds representing and supporting creators and inventors, express support of H.R. 1695, ‘The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017’…” – American Society of Media Photographers
“Making the Register of Copyrights a presidential appointee subject to the advice and consent of the Senate reflects the growing importance of copyright to our economy and culture, and treats the head of the Office like other officials, with oversight over similarly significant industries.” – North American Nature Photography Association
“To help facilitate the marketplace for creative works, visual artists have long called for modernizing the US Copyright Office. That’s why we strongly support HR 1695, the Register of Copyrights and Selection and Accountability Act…” – National Press Photographers Association
“… one can see that the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office are at odds with what they do. Making the Register of Copyright a presidential appointee is the first step in giving the Copyright Office some autonomy to effectively do what they were created for.” – Professional Photographers of America
“The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017fills a critical gap that currently exists in the selection process for all future Registers of Copyright. No Member on this Committee, nor in Congress would underestimate the importance of the copyright economy in America. The copyright economy is a key driver of our nation’s exports. Overseeing this sector is the Copyright Office, an entity whose large impact is far bigger than its small footprint.” – Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chair, House Judiciary Committee
“In the past, the authority of the Copyright Office to conduct rule makings has been challenged in the courts because the Register is not currently Presidentially-appointed. This bipartisan legislation would put to rest, once and for all, that question, and ensures that the Register is accountable to Congress.” – joint statement, Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and John Conyers (D-MI), Ranking Member, House Judiciary Committee
“As a member of Congress with the honor of representing parts of the greater Los Angeles region, I’m intimately aware of the importance of the creative economy to everyday Californians and the country as a whole… That’s why I’ve been a supporter of a strong copyright system—the foundation of a strong creative economy—since I came to Congress. That’s also why Congress must pass H.R. 1695, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act…” – Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA)
“Stripped to its basics, the choice is stark: Does Congress want modernization and independent copyright advice straight and true from the expert agency, or does it want copyright administration and advice filtered through the lens – and shaped by the perspective – of the head of the national library?” – MaryBeth Peters and Ralph Oman, former Registers of Copyright