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H.R. 1695 (115th): Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017

This bill would change the appointment process for the head of the U.S. Copyright Office, known as the Register of Copyrights. Currently the Register of Copyrights is hired by the Librarian of Congress (who is the head of the Library of Congress). This bill would make the position appointed by the president with confirmation by the Senate, just as the Librarian of Congress is.

This bill creates a selection panel made up of Members of Congress and the Librarian of Congress who are tasked with submitting a list of at least three qualified individuals to the President for his or her consideration. The President would nominate an individual from the selection panel’s list and the individual would be subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate. The legislation also limits the Register to a 10-year term, which is renewable by another Presidential nomination and Senate confirmation, and notes the Register can only be removed for cause. Republican Policy Committee

The change follows court challenges to the Copyright Office's authority to issue regulations because the Copyright Office is within the Library of Congress which is a legislative branch agency and not an executive branch agency. By making the head of the Copyright Office appointed by the president, the office would become an executive branch agency, according to the sponsor of the bill. The bill also comes after the firing of the most recent Register of Copyrights for misreporting spending to Congress.

Last updated May 2, 2017. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Apr 26, 2017.

Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017

(Sec. 2) This bill amends federal copyright law to require the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint a Register of Copyrights from a list of at least three individuals recommended by a panel composed of:

the Speaker of the House of Representatives; the President pro tempore of the Senate; the majority and minority leaders of the House and the Senate; and the Librarian of Congress. (Currently, the Register of Copyrights is appointed by the Librarian of Congress.)

To be eligible for appointment, the individual must be a citizen of the United States with a professional background and experience in copyright law and must be capable of identifying and supervising a chief information officer responsible for managing modern information technology systems.

The bill limits the term of office for the Register of Copyrights to 10 years, but the individual may be reappointed subject to the same requirements established in this bill.

The President may remove the Register of Copyrights from office and must notify both chambers of Congress of any such removal.

(Sec. 3) Nothing in this bill may be construed to impact the mandatory deposit requirements under which owners of a copyright or of an exclusive right of publication must deposit in the U.S. Copyright Office two copies or phonorecords of works published in the United States for the use or disposition of the Library of Congress.