Black Musicians Support a Trump-Appointed US Copyright Office

Why Black Musicians Support the 'Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act' for the US Copyright Office
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Why Black Musicians Support the 'Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act' for the US Copyright Office
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Eddy Berthier (CC by 2.0)

This is a much-needed change for the US Copyright Office, according to the Content Creators Coalition.  And it isn’t discriminatory against black musicians.

Members of the Content Creators Coalition (C3) recently issued a letter in support of H.R. 1695.  The bill, known as The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, would simplify the process of selecting the Register of the US Copyright Office.  Rep. Bob Goodlatte [R-VA] first introduced the bill on March 23rd.

DMN readers will remember that Donald Trump will personally oversee the Register’s appointment.  The fast-tracked 5-page bill currently enjoys bi-partisan support, and would quickly change the US Copyright Office.

C3 president Melvin Gibbs authored the letter.  Other signatories included Nona Hendryx, Ernie Isley, Ramsey Jones, Darrel McNeill, and V Jeffery Smith.  You can read the letter in its entirety below.

“Dear Congressional Black Caucus Member:

“On behalf of the Content Creators Coalition, we write in support of H.R. 1695, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, which would modernize and provide greater transparency to the process of selecting the Register of the Copyright Office.

“This is vital legislation that will strengthen the Copyright Office.  We believe this selection process should be granted a similar import, rigor, and transparency as the processes of selecting other organizations.  That includes the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, that oversee large industries.  Both would involve Presidential nomination and Senate confirmation.  In light of the specialized knowledge required to lead this office, we also support the appointment of an advisory group to suggest candidates for consideration.

“This legislation would place the Copyright Office on equal footing as other economically and culturally vital agencies.  It has wide bipartisan support and was passed out of the typically polarized House Judiciary Committee on a vote of 27-1.

“As artists of color, we find it deeply offensive that opponents of this bill have attempted to recast their anti-creators’ rights goals into a smear campaign against its sponsors and supporters.  They are insinuating that the legislation is about the race and gender of the current Librarian of Congress.  The Act is co-authored by the Dean of the House and the Congressional Black Caucus, Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers.  It’s also supported by Congressman John Lewis.  Their lifelong and unshakeable commitment to civil rights is a historical fact and should be honored and respected.  Not opportunistically and baselessly questioned just to score a few empty political points.

“We would be the first to speak out against prejudice or bias anywhere – in business, culture, the arts, or politics.  But here, we know these charges are false. The bill has nothing to do with the current Librarian at all – in fact, these reform proposals pre-date her appointment.

“Nor does this bill have anything to do with the former Register of Copyrights.  We are grateful for her tireless efforts and advocacy on behalf of working musicians.  And we find it appalling that some have dragged her record through the mud to defeat these reforms.

“And certainly the bill has nothing to do with the current President.  Once again, these proposals to modernize the US Copyright Office long pre-date his election.

“It is the height of cynicism for bill opponents to attempt to ride on the powerful coattails of the “RESIST” movement by falsely wrapping this bipartisan, pro-artist, pro-creator legislation into the controversies surrounding the President.  Especially in light of his proposal for massive cuts to funding for the arts.  In our view, misleading the President’s critics by leveraging fear into opposition for a non-controversial proposal like this ultimately undermines and disrespects our movement.

“The need for this legislation is plain.  The current system in which the Librarian of Congress selects the Register is the result of a unique moment in history and outdated concerns.  In 1870, the Librarian of Congress asked Congress to give him the authority to appoint the Register in order to deal with a massive influx of new works and the need to quickly grow the Library’s collection.

“Nearly 150 years later, the functions of the US Copyright Office have changed.  It is no mere registry of creative works.  Instead, it has become the most trusted advisor on Copyright law and its interpretation for Congress.  The process of selecting a leader to this office should reflect the importance of copyright to the US economy.

“Congress is reviewing and revising copyright laws to ensure they continue to protect all music creators in a time of rapid transition online.  It deserves the best advice it can get, and reform of the Register selection process is long overdue.”

One Response

  1. Josh Taylor

    Copyright is not a civil right. It’s money theft from the middle class by the greedy money lovin’ creators. These greedy IP maximalist creators would like to falsely accuse and jail people for doodling. Creativity must be shared with the world without profit.