This isn’t a huge surprise, but unfortunately, today — after a mostly ridiculous “debate” on the House floor full of claptrap and bullshit about how important copyright is to “protecting jobs” (despite this bill having nothing to do with any of that) — the House voted 378 to 48 to approve a bill that makes the head of the Copyright Office, the Copyright Register, a Presidential appointment rather than an appointment by the Library of Congress, as it’s been throughout the entire history of the Copyright Office. As we pointed out just yesterday, Congress appears to be rushing this through for no clear reason. It held no hearings on the issue (other than the fact that the current Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, was getting ready to appoint her own Copyright Register).
Again, every reason given by supporters of this bill doesn’t hold up to any scrutiny. They claimed, falsely, that copyright creates 5 million jobs (one Rep — Tony Cardenas — even claimed that the Copyright Register “oversees” those jobs). But this is not true. They claimed that the Copyright Office needs to be modernized — which is true. But Carla Hayden has already commenced a massive modernization project, which this bill will stop dead in its tracks. They claimed that this would provide “greater oversight” over how the Copyright Office is run, but that’s not even remotely true. The bill actually takes away the oversight from the Librarian of Congress… and gives it to no one other than the President, who isn’t likely to be paying much attention to what’s happening at the Copyright Office.
This bill serves no purpose other than to take power away from the Librarian of Congress and give it to powerful lobbyists who will have a major say in who runs the Copyright Office. The bill will now move to the Senate where it is also likely to get an easy approval, and no doubt the President will sign the bill (which gives him more power, even if he’s shown little sign of actually appointing people to the nearly 500 open positions which this will add to). It’s a bad bill, and it’s a gift to Hollywood, even as it will harm the actual content creators who will have to wait even longer for the office to actually be modernized.
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Author: Mike Masnick