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Bill Would Make Copyright Office Independent Agency

A pair of legislators has circulated a bipartisan draft bill that would make the Copyright Office an independent agency — it is part of the Library of Congress — in an effort to make it more nimble in the digital age.

The draft of the bill, the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy [CODE] Act is being introduced by Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Tom Marino (R-Pa.).

The pair said it was crucial to give the office its autonomy. "We need a Copyright Office that serves the needs of owners, users, and the American public," said Chu in announcing the draft. "This includes giving the office independence and sound legal ground to perform its core mission to administer the Copyright Act."

Marino concedes the move could be considered a tough sell, but said he thought others could get on board. Chu and Marino signaled they have time to get those supporters. "Reps. Chu and Marino expect to conduct conversations with stakeholders about this proposal in the months to come. A copy of the discussion draft can be found here. A section by section breakdown can be found here," Marino's website said.

A summary of the draft can be found here, but the highlights are:

1. Establishes the U.S. Copyright Office as an independent agency.
2. Provides that the President will appoint a director for one 10-year term upon the advice of a bipartisan, bicameral commission, and with consent of the Senate.
3. Transfers administrative functions and legal duties from the Library to the Copyright Office.
4. Allows the Copyright Office to deliver any and all communications directly to the legislative branch, free of executive review.

"SIIA applauds Reps. Marino and Chu for recognizing that the status quo is unacceptable and working to build consensus around steps to modernize the Copyright Office," said the Software and Information Industry Association. "Their bipartisan draft would make tremendous operational improvements that would benefit copyright owners and users, the tech industry and the public. Because this issue is so essential for ensuring U.S. economic opportunity and growth, we intend to work closely with Reps. Marino and Chu, Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Nadler and others to move legislation forward.”