This week, the Chairmen and Ranking Members of both the Senate and House Judiciary committees introduced important legislation - the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act – which makes the U.S. Register of Copyrights a position appointed by the president subject to Senate confirmation.
CFIF applauds this much-needed proposal to modernize the U.S. Copyright Office in order to meet the new challenges of the 21st century.
Strong copyright protection constitutes a core component of our domestic economy, and our world-leading creative community in particular. As we at CFIF have often emphasized, it is not by coincidence that the U.S. stands unrivaled as the most creative, innovative, prosperous and powerful nation in human history while consistently maintaining the world’s strongest copyright and other intellectual property (IP) protections. That relationship is direct and causal. Our Founding Fathers specifically protected copyright as a fundamental, natural property right in the text of the Constitution. As a result, American copyright-related industries dominate the globe, from film to television to music to publications, and today those industries contribute over $1 trillion to the American economy, as well as accounting for 5.5 million jobs. And in an era of increasing global competition, copyright-related industries remain a significant export sector that only keeps growing.
Here’s why the Copyright Office is so crucial in that realm. It facilitates the thriving U.S. market by administering the registration and recordation systems, as well as advising Congress, our judicial system and other pivotal parties on both domestic and international copyright matters. Unfortunately, under the current system created over 120 years ago, the Office is currently housed within the Library of Congress, which faces its own challenges and responsibilities. Consequently, the Copyright Office has struggled to keep pace in the increasingly digital economy despite repeated calls urging modernization.
Accordingly, given the enormous and growing importance of copyright industries to the U.S. economy and exports, we applaud the long-needed legislative effort to modernize the Copyright Office in this way. Although only a first step in broader Copyright Office reform, it is an important one. It also offers a rare bipartisan opportunity for Congress in addition to how it helps American consumers and our creative and innovative community. Every living former Register of Copyrights has urged Copyright Office restructuring, and CFIF agrees wholeheartedly with that broad consensus. American consumers, our economy and export industries stand to benefit immensely from this important step.