Copyright Office's Online Registration System Has Been Down All Week

from the time-to-fix-it dept

Back in March, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which tends to do really great work, came out with an absolutely scathing report on the disaster that is the Library of Congress, and didn’t beat around the bush in blaming the Librarian of Congress James Billington for being technologically illiterate and out of touch, leading to gross mismanagement. The report noted that the Library of Congress appeared to have no leadership or strategic plan in place to address technology issues. Just a few months later, Billington — who had served in the job for 27 years — announced his retirement. And apparently things were so bad at the Library of Congress, that rather than the usual bland platitudes, people working there were immediately willing to run to the press about how excited they were to be rid of Billington:

The reaction inside the library was almost gleeful, as one employee joked that some workers were thinking of organizing a conga line down Pennsylvania Avenue. Another said it felt like someone opened a window.

?There is a general sense of relief, hope and renewal, all rolled into one feeling,? said one staffer who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. ?Like a great weight has been lifted from our shoulders.?

Maureen Moore, who retired in 2005 but volunteers at the library, said she and her friends were thrilled.

?It?s a great day for the library. The man has had 27 years to do good things, and he hasn?t,? she said.

Ouch.

Anyway, given all that, it should be no surprise that the Copyright Office which is (rightfully) a part of the Library of Congress, is apparently experiencing a bit of technical difficulty these days:

The U.S. Copyright Office?s electronic registration system has been down since Friday, costing the office an estimated $650,000 in lost fees and causing headaches for approximately 12,000 customers.

The outage is part of a bigger computer failure at the Library of Congress, the federal agency that oversees the national library, provides Congress with research advice and operates the Copyright Office, a major player in the global digital economy.

Scheduled maintenance on the library?s James Madison Building resulted in buildingwide power outages, officials said. The library?s information technology office is trying to restore the systems, but officials can?t say when service will return.

Double ouch. Yes, yes, we all know that government computing is a total mess. But this is pretty disgraceful, especially for areas (both the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office) that are so closely associated with the technology world these days. Getting new management into the Library of Congress — in particular someone who understands technology and innovation — can’t come fast enough.

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Comments on “Copyright Office's Online Registration System Has Been Down All Week”

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37 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

COPYRIGHT TAKES OUT POWER GRID! "Scheduled maintenance on the library's James Madison Building resulted in buildingwide power outages,"

THIS is one of your most amazing stretches EVER. By what logic do you blame “power outages” on Librarian AND copyright? — Other than by sheer rabid resolve?

Must be a word for you 13-year-olds beyond “sheesh”, but I’m so sheeshed that I’ll just have to turn on capslock: SHEESH!


Masnick appears again to be okaying every comment. NINTH attempt.

Anonymous Coward says:

Double ouch. Yes, yes, we all know that government computing is a total mess. But this is pretty disgraceful, especially for areas (both the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office) that are so closely associated with the technology world these days. Getting new management into the Library of Congress — in particular someone who understands technology and innovation — can’t come fast enough.

Hey, I actually agree with Mike on a copyright issue! Well, all of it except the part about the Copyright Office belonging in the Library of Congress.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

What? Where did Mike say he wanted it there? That’s simply where it is and always has been, and has nothing to do with whether your for or against copyright.

Mike says: “Anyway, given all that, it should be no surprise that the Copyright Office which is (rightfully) a part of the Library of Congress . . . .”

The key word is “rightfully.” I picked up on it since I’m familiar with the current debate about where the Copyright Office belongs. You don’t appear to be familiar with this debate.

I’ll just assume you prefer to have the copyright office run by a private organization overseen by the MPAA.

Nope. I like the Office and the Register, and I think they do great work with what they’ve got. They need more resources, as this outage demonstrates.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

So you really just came here to comment on one word in the article? “Rightfully”

No, I came here to express my surprise that I (mostly) agree with Mike on a copyright issue. I mentioned that I mostly do, except for the part about the USCO belonging in the LOC. You’re the one who then challenged my assertion that Mike wants it in the LOC and that his post has anything to do with the debate about where it should be and whether he supports copyright. I’m happy to explain the parts you didn’t catch, but your follow-up question is just trolling at this point.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Why are you disagreeing with Mike when he gets his facts right. The United States Copyright Office is part of the Library of Congress.

Sigh. I’m talking about whether it BELONGS there.

Though, Mike doesn’t always get it right.

Compare these two statements from Mike:

(1) “the Librarian of Congress, which you might notice is a part of the legislative branch, not the executive branch”

Source: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120706/10411619605/copyright-royalty-board-found-unconstitutional-appeals-court-magically-makes-it-constitutional-again.shtml

(2) “the Librarian of Congress (who technically is a part of the executive branch, working for the President)”

Source: https://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20130304/10334222192/white-house-says-mobile-phone-unlocking-should-be-legal.shtml

Mike doesn’t know where the Library is located in the scheme of things, presumably because he doesn’t do his homework. But, I digress.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Mike doesn’t know where the Library is located in the scheme of things, presumably because he doesn’t do his homework. But, I digress.

Oooh. Cheap shot.

The Library of Congress is a weird organization that effectively straddles both branches. And you know that. As an “agency of the legislative branch” it’s reasonable to say that it’s a part of the legislative branch — as I did in that first post.

However, some people rightly pointed out to me that the Library of Congress is in this weird spot in which even though it is an “agency of the legislative branch” the Librarian actually officially works for the President and thus it can be argued that he’s a part of the executive branch. In fact, THE WHITE HOUSE ITSELF has claimed this:

http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/osg/briefs/2012/01/01/2012-0928.resp.pdf (page 16):

“This Court has explained that, for Appointments
Clause purposes, a “Department[]” is a component of
the government that is “in the Executive Branch or at
least ha[s] some connection with that branch,” Buckley
v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 127 (1976) (per curiam), and is “not
subordinate to or contained within any other [freestanding]
component” of the Executive Branch, Free
Enter. Fund, 130 S. Ct. at 3163. The Library of Congress
satisfies that standard.

The Library is headed by the Librarian of Congress,
who is “appointed by the President, by and with the
advice and consent of the Senate,” and is authorized to
“make rules and regulations for the government of the
Library.” 2 U.S.C. 136. No statute limits the President’s
oversight of the Librarian. Nor has Congress
reserved to itself the power to review or influence the
Librarian’s conduct in office.

So, yeah, it’s a bit of a mess, but to argue that I’m somehow ignorant or “don’t do my homework”, when this is an issue that is a matter of clear dispute (including in filings before the Supreme Court)… well…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Oooh. Cheap shot.

It’s a “cheap shot” to point out that you have, undeniably, explicitly contradicted yourself? No way.

And let’s take a moment to reflect upon the decision of your “community” to mark my pointing out your UNDENIABLE about-face to hide my comment as being “flagged by the community.”

I made a criticism, backed by explicit quotes of yours with exact links thereto, that “they” decided should be hidden from view because they don’t like it when you are so challenged.

WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO EVER SAY SOMETHING ABOUT SUCH ABUSE????

I presume “never,” because you’ve never condemn such abuse before and it’s, of course, beneficial to you personally.

Seriously, Mike, why do you let such abuse happen on your own blog while you condemn so much perceived abuse by others as part of your business model?

I’m happy to discuss your undeniably contradictory explanations about the Librarian, but can you first acknowledge the FACT that your devotees abuse your own system? You would gain so much respect from me if you even acknowledged that it happens… much more if you actually did anything about it (as you surely know, you’re site is incredibly hostile to anyone who challenges anything you say–this, despite your common theme of challenging what others say… I’ve been following your work for years, and I hope you realize it’s because I geniunely CARE what you think).

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

It’s a “cheap shot” to point out that you have, undeniably, explicitly contradicted yourself? No way.

Yes. You did so without the context, which notes that this point has been heavily argued and no one fully agrees. Indeed, it was a key point in a lawsuit. You used that point to argue that I “didn’t do my homework” which was clearly wrong. Leaving out the context is a cheap troll trick, and I called you on it, presenting the fact that you were being purposely intellectually dishonest (either that or you were unaware of the questions over the official status). So, take your pick: were you intellectually dishonest, or was it you who failed to do your homework? I think we both know the answer to that.

But, of course, I note you address none of that, and instead move the goalposts, which (now that I realize who you are) I am reminded is your usual technique when caught.

Oh well.

As for people reporting you, they are most likely not reporting you for disagreeing with me. Lots of people disagree with me or others here and do not get reported. Rather it is the manner in which you do so, which makes it clear you are not interested in having a discussion or correcting an error, but rather to personally attack me or this site. This is evident in the intellectual dishonesty in the way you presented the information above. That’s why they are choosing to report you.

One would think that having seen it happen repeatedly, you might learn to not act in such a manner, but alas, it appears you are not so self-aware. Instead, you lash out and blame me. In the past, we have pointed out that you act like a 3 year old, and it appears you have not grown out of that mindset yet.

Anyway. Now that I realize who you are, I am reminded that there is no value in engaging with you because you will not engage honestly, but rather will move the goal posts, insult with abandon and generally spew misinformation all around.

Enjoy your weekend, and, as I’m sure you will, go ahead and get in your last word. But, we’ll both know one thing: you were being intellectually dishonest here and now that you’ve been called on it, the best you can do is point in another direction and yell “squirrel.”

That’s no way to go through life.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

LOL! Let’s talk about your intellectual dishonesty. I can point to example after example after example, going back five years. Literally hundreds of examples.

Shall we start with whether the superseding indictment in the Dotcom case alleges any acts of direct infringement on the defendants’ parts? I’ve got hundreds of more examples just like that.

You and I both know that you will NEVER address any of them directly. Never, ever.

And I love how you turn to your same old talking points, e.g., that I’m a baby and I move the goal posts. So many excuses. It’s awesome. The fact is that you’re desperately just trying to change the subject because you know you can’t hold your own in a discussion on the merits.

Bawk!

I can point to hundreds of examples where you changed the subject and ran away. You can’t point to one where I did the same. The baby is you, Mike. The liar is you, Mike. You’re the least honest person in the entire IP world. And you know it.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

The copyright office’s online presence has been a joke for over a decade now. They’ve been promising for years to digitize their catalog to make it searchable.

Right now if you want to find out the copyright status on any pre-1972 work, you have to pay a minimum of $400 to have someone in Washington DC go look it up for you. For that much money, you can fly there and look it up yourself, although I’ll be that their records are such a mess that it takes a trained expert to find anything.

Not that it would do much good, because it’s likely that the copyright has changed hands since then anyway, and there’s no requirement that the current status of any copyright work be maintained.

Basically, the main thing required to make copyright work is seriously broken, leaving us with a massive copyright graveyard of orphaned works.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So let me get this right.

The copyright office has been promising for years to digitize their catalog and make it searchable.

But searchable would mean it is like . . . (gasp!) Google!

And digitizing anything to make it searchable is even more unspeakably similar to Google’s diabolical efforts to make books searchable and knowledge more generally available!

And that must, um, somehow, mean . . . infringement!

Is making a public catalog searchable really the kind of thing that we want our government to be doing? Doing something like that would have been previously unthinkable. Now we mention it like it’s no big deal. What is the world coming to.

Anonymous Coward says:

At the Copyright office website…
“Due to system outages at the data center maintained by the Library of Congress, the U.S. Copyright Office’s eCO registration system is offline. The Library of Congress informs us that it is working to resolve the problems as expeditiously as possible, but we do not have an estimated time for service resumption.

Please note that during this outage, you can still file a copyright registration for your work using a paper registration form. All regulations for paper submitted applications, including fees, will apply. Fillable PDF registration forms are available at http://copyright.gov/forms. For further information, please contact (202)-707-3000 or 1-877-476-0778 (toll free).”

Anonymous Coward says:

MANIAC ATTACKS SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE! I was so sheeshed that didn't properly highlight the worst!

SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE.

SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE IS NOT A FLAW. IT’S PLANNED, INTENDED, AND NORMAL. PERHAPS FOR THE VERY UPGRADES THAT HE CLAIMS ISN’T HAPPENING.

Clearly ivory-tower Masnick has not least notion what that means. He lives in a world of magic widgets that never need maintenance. He believes that his Ivy League fairy dust lets computers run without power.

Please don’t in least degree admit this combines jaw-dropping stupidity with malefic spite to attack copyright by loony linkage, kids! Even a hint of sanity would totally ruin my fun at Techdirt.


TENTH try on this new! Never seems to get in until I add a ruler…

Arthur Moore (profile) says:

GAO: No Secure Connection (https://) Required

Interestingly, I can’t access that GAO link in a secure manner. My browser automatically tries to connect to HTTPS first, but I get show a page which tries to direct me to the HTTP home page and says this:

No Secure Connection (https://) Required

You have reached the website for the Government Accountability Office. However, your browser is trying a secure connection (https). GAO’s public website can be reached by following the link to http://www.gao.gov

Annoyingly it directs me to the home page, so I have to find the link again, after I decide to not browse securely.

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