Senate Version of Copyright Office Reform Bill Introduced

The Senate version of HR 1695, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017, has been introduced in the Senate.

The bipartisan and big name sponsors in that body are Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), former chairmen Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

The House version passed that body last week by a vote of 378 to 48. The Senate version is identical, so if/when it passes it needs no conferencing with the other side and can go straight to the President's desk. That is assuming there are no amendments from the Senate side, Grassley's press secretary, Taylor Foy, pointed out. "Although the Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over copyright laws, the Senate Rules Committee has jurisdiction over the Library of Congress, where the Copyright Office is housed," he said adding: "So [we] are working with the Rules Committee on the best path forward," said Foy.

The bill makes the register position a presidential appointment, requiring confirmation by the Senate, and with a term limit of 10 years. Currently it is an appointment of, and reports to, the Librarian of Congress and has no term limit.

The Register of Copyrights oversees the Copyright Office, whose opinion that online video streamers aren't MVPDs when it comes to compulsory license eligibility was recently deferred to by the Ninth Circuit in ruling against streamer FilmOn X.

The duties of the registrar include "legal interpretation of the copyright law...promulgating copyright regulations; advising Congress and other government officials on domestic and international copyright policy and other intellectual property issues."

(Photo via Peter Brantley's FlickrImage taken on May 2, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 9x16 aspect ratio.)

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.