The US Copyright Office is about to dramatically change. Here’s the fast-tracked, 5-page bill that will perform that transformation.
For those just tuning in, the US Copyright Office is about to experience its greatest change in decades. Most important, the Office will fall under the direct purview of President Donald Trump. Instead of the Library of Congress appointing the head of the US Copyright Office, the appointment will be made by the President himself.
The head of the US Copyright Office — technically called the ‘Register’ — oversees all copyright policy, including trademarks. Now, that individual will have a heightened level of accountability to the President. Not only that, the President will soon have the power to fire the Register at will, and re-appoint a new one.
One ‘check’ on all of this is that the Senate must approve all Register appointments. That might be more than a technicality, depending on how interested and educated Senate members become on copyright law.
If that sounds horrifyingly scary to you, then you’re probably in music, film, books, or another creative industry. And part of the problem is that the US Copyright Office is now likely to shift from a behind-the-scenes bureaucracy to a frontline political weapon. And a great way to stick it to enemies like the ‘Hollywood elite’ and unsupportive artists (and their labels and publishers).
Whether Trump will use his power to appoint a Register who hates Hollywood and the music industry is anyone’s guess. There’s also plenty of Trump warfare happening with Silicon Valley, which notoriously prefers lax copyright.
What’s far more certain is the following, 5-page bill. This isn’t as complicated as the recently-doomed health care bill. Not only that, it actually enjoys bi-partisan support.