There is now a vacancy in the top position at the Copyright Office, the Register of Copyrights, and the Librarian of Congress, who appoints the Register, has asked for comments on the role and qualifications for the new Register. These comments are due by January 31, 2017. While setting copyright law has thus far been the role of Congress, the Copyright Office has an important role in administering that law, and examining policy issues to make recommendations to Congress on controversial issues. We write extensively on many of these controversial copyright issues, as these issues have the potential for being transformative for the broadcast and media industries. For broadcasters, there are numerous issues, including questions raised by new performing rights organizations like GMR that seek more and more payment for the use of the musical composition by broadcast companies (see, for instance our article yesterday about the interim agreement between GMR and RMLC and its broader implications for the radio industry) and the broadcast performance royalty for sound recordings that keeps coming up year after year (sometimes referred to as the “performance tax,” which has generally been supported by the Copyright Office, see our posts here and here). For other media companies, there are many issues including questions about the protections afforded under Section 512 of the Copyright Act to companies that host user-generated content (see, for instance, our articles here and here) and the formation of a small claims copyright court that may allow more cases to be brought for copyright infringement (see our post here).
The survey about the qualifications of the new Register, available here, asks only three questions, plus a general request for additional comments. The questions are:
- What skills and knowledge should be required from a Register?
- What are the Top 3 priorities for any new Register?
- What other factors should be considered in the appointment of the Register?
The survey does ask for the name of the respondent, and indicates that there may be outreach to selected commenters asking for more information. Given that copyright is likely to be a hot topic in the new Congress (see our article here), this position assumes increased importance in informing Congressional decision making. If you want to have your say in setting the priorities for the person who will be setting the priorities and policy positions of the Copyright Office in the coming years, fill out the survey by January 31.