It’s the giant ‘f*&k you’ Trump’s been dying to give Hollywood. Now, pending legislation would pass full authority over the US Copyright Office to Donald Trump.
Think copyright law is seriously screwed up? Then get ready for even greater chaos ahead. Now, a broken, outdated set of copyright statutes could fall under direct purview of the Trump Administration.
What could possibly go wrong?
Right now, the US Copyright Office falls under the Library of Congress. Accordingly, the head of the US Copyright Office — called the ‘Register’ — has traditionally been appointed by the head of the Library of Congress. Carla Hayden currently oversees the Library of Congress, by appointment from Barack Obama.
Which means, not only is Hayden likely to get axed, so are large portions of the US Copyright Office staff. And whoever’s appointed as Register may have an entirely different boss. Which brings us to…
‘The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017’
Currently, pending Congressional legislation seeks to shift authority over the US Copyright Office to the president. Trump had trouble gutting Obamacare despite a majority Republican congress. But this is probably going to be an easier one (for a number of reasons).
Basically, the bill calls for the president to select a Register to a ten-year term, with the Senate approving the choice. But one little kicker is that the president can fire and replace the Register at any point.
That said, the Trump and the Republican Senate are likely to appoint someone that Hollywood absolutely hates. Because, of course they will.
Currently, there isn’t even a Register, since Hayden fired the last one. Conspiracies pegged that as a Google-inspired ax job. Though Google will have far less say in the next round. “We must ensure that any new Register is a good manager and fully qualified to lead and make this office more operationally effective as he or she continues to directly advise Congress on copyrights,” a joint Congressional statement declared.
“The next Register of Copyrights should be dedicated to serving all stakeholders in the copyright ecosystem.”
Wait, what? Both parties want to collectively get something done?
Yes indeed, this is a bi-partisan initiative. Perhaps copyright is that obviously screwed up. Last week, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Member John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) introduced the bill, declaring a “bipartisan, bicameral effort” to replace the Register.
Meanwhile, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has weighed in to support the bill. “Importantly, the legislation will enable the American people and all interested parties to provide input through their elected officials into the selection of the Register,” an MPAA statement declared.
“Once this targeted legislation is enacted, Congress will be able to focus on the broader task of Copyright Office modernization.”
At this stage, it’s difficult to say if the MPAA is simply playing nice or genuinely dislikes the current structure.
It’s also a little difficult to pick through the carnage ahead. After all, Trump hates Silicon Valley, which hates overbearing copyright. But he also despises the Hollywood elite, who desperately need tougher copyright protections. Trump personally loves trademark protections, however, given its importance to the Trump brand.
All of which equals a totally unpredictable result!
And what about the music industry?
Music industry lobbyists at the RIAA have been pretty quiet post-Trump. And serious questions surround their sagging influence on the Hill. But a massive chorus of anti-Trump musicians, many of whom refused to perform the Inauguration, certainly doesn’t help.
The current Acting Register is Karyn Temple Claggett, who replaced Maria Pallante last year. That last broad-reaching copyright overhaul happened in 1976.
More as this develops.