115th Congress adds copyright to its agenda

115th Congress adds copyright to its agenda

The US 115th Congress will have the opportunity to vote on several copyright policy proposals during the current legislature, according to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who led a two-year review of the country's copyright law.

In a recent speech in Washington, DC, Chairman Goodlatte said that the House Judiciary Committee will "build upon its review of our nation’s copyright laws to ensure that America’s global leadership in creativity and innovation continues in the 21st century and beyond."

Among the first proposal that will be presented before Congress will focus on the US Copyright Office to ensure that it "keeps pace in the digital age," said Goodlatte. He added: "Among the reforms contained in our first proposal are granting the Copyright Office autonomy and requiring it to maintain an up-to-date digital, searchable database of all copyrighted works. This proposal is the first of what we intend to be numerous policy proposals to reform aspects of our copyright laws."

Goodlatte did not detail other proposals but Washington, DC industry observers suggest that a bill on music licensing could find its way forward as well as the small claims tribunal proposal. In the wake of Goodlatte's announcement, Congress members Judy Chu and Tom Marino have reintroduced the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act also known as the CODE Act. This bill was previously introduced in the 114th Congress as H.R. 4241, and although it was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, it was not brought up for a vote.

The wide-ranging bill proposes to makes several improvements to the Copyright Office such as housing the Copyright Office within the Legislative Branch, rather than with the Library of Congress, as it is now. The USCO would also be given the means to invest in technology that will improve its efficiency. Congresswoman Chu said:  “The copyright industries are responsible for millions of jobs and billions of dollars in our economy, yet the Copyright Office is still using outmoded processes to handle registration. We must bring it into the modern age. In addition, this bill makes operational improvements and provides administrative control to the Copyright Office, which would make the Office more efficient and responsive to all interested parties."

"The CODE Act ensures the Copyright Office has the autonomy to move quickly and adapt to changes in technology so the public has the ability to enjoy and benefit from creative works. It also ensures that the registration process provides content creators with the ability to enforce their rights in a timely manner," added Congressman Marino.

The Copyright Alliance, a non-partisan body which represents the copyright interests of over 1.8 million individual creators and over 13,000 organisations in the United States, welcomed the initiative from Representatives Chu and Marino. “Modernisation of the US Copyright Office is crucial not just to those of us in the copyright community, but to the public and many others who rely upon the Copyright Office’s services," said Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid. "Regardless of a stakeholder’s views on copyright policy, nearly everyone agrees that the Copyright Office cannot continue operating under its current structure and is in dire need of modernisation.”

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