House Votes Overwhelmingly To Make The Copyright Office More Political & To Delay Modernization

from the what-a-farce dept

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.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “House Votes Overwhelmingly To Make The Copyright Office More Political & To Delay Modernization”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Wyrm (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wrong headline then.....

And you, sir, are completely off.

Google might be spending lots of money on lobbying, but not on this very subject.

So, you are right: Congress is not cornholing anything for a few tech billionaires. They are trying to help copyright billionaires.

You didn’t follow the money. You only followed your troll instincts.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wrong headline then.....

Nobody spends more on lobbying than Google.

Actually, according to a Open Secrets, AT&T, Comcast, and 14 other organizations do in fact spend more on lobbying than Google. In fact, AT&T alone outspends Alphabet on lobbying by more than 25%.

But to be fair, it’s not as if you were using an internet-connected device and could have spent thirty seconds looking that up before you wrote your dumbass comment or anything.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Wrong headline then.....

The Constitution only says copyright is supposed to last for a limited time — two terms of 14 years, I believe, after which point the work goes into the public domain to benefit “the Useful Arts” and the citizen marketplace. Ben Franklin abhorred IP. What DMCA, Berne Convention et al are is called regulatory capture, or corporatocracy. Government for and by the corporate people at a cost to the regular people.

It’s created an absolute monster whereby singing Happy Birthday or taking a selfie of you and some friends in a Star Wars cosplay gets you slapped with an exorbitant fine for not securing a “Public Performance License” that you’d have to pay an exorbitant fee for first.

This isn’t about “cornholing artists.” If anything, the artists are the ones who get screwed by the fact that their label/studio/publisher/some other centralized “rights manager,” who knows and cares fk-all about art and everything about squeezing as much profit as possible from a recycled commodity, is the “rightful owner” of their work — and NOT the artist themselves. It’s why Prince changed his name to that ludicrous Unicode symbol he made up. His former label had straitjacketed him so much, that they literally owned his given name.

Copyright — at least the way it’s implemented today, at the behest of Big Content lobbyists and the sackless congresscritters getting their wallets fattened by the Mausreich and others of their ilk — is fascism. You don’t have to be a fan of Google or any other equally evil Internet oligopoly in order to realize that.

Deal with it, you sycophantic tool.

Anonymous Coward says:

Leave aside whatever assumed motivations are going on here, just why is the copyright office under the Library of Congress? That really makes no sense. It’s not a legislative function. The LoC exists to provide information for the legislature, I get that. But the copyright office is providing a general service to the country, which is an administrative function.

Can somebody explain why a legislative branch employee is performing an executive branch function?

And can someone further explain why an office that’s tacked onto what’s supposed to be a legislative research service is suddenly going to subjected to “powerful lobbyists” and why it wasn’t subjected to “powerful lobbyists” before?

I’m willing to be enlightened here, but the article and subsequent commentary provides a lot of hot air and no substance. Please, Mike, explain your position rather than just fuming.

Christenson says:

Re: Legislative branch location of register of copyrights in LoC.

Perhaps having the copyright office in the Library of Congress is inappropriate, but there’s method to the madness:

First, the constitution allows for exclusive control for limited terms “for the advancement of the arts and sciences” (which promotes public progress for everyone).

Second, the Library of Congress is an institution of advancement of the arts and sciences. Serious science libraries use the Library of Congress catalog numbers and not Dewey Decimal numbers. It’s purpose is to gather all that advancement together for the benefit of everyone.

It’s not in the executive branch because the executive is too interested in it’s own version of reality (WMD in Iraq, anyone?) and not in the judicial, where almost everyone making input has an axe to grind.

Third, if copyright is to serve its proper function, don’t you think the library of congress is the right place to register a copyright on something that is supposed to be valuable enough to advance the arts and sciences and serve all of us at some point? Don’t you think the filing system for copyrighted material should closely resemble a library, maybe even simply be a big part of the LoC collections?

In the age of the internet wayback machine, it’s kind of incredible (as seen in copyright troll defenses such as against Malibu Media) that the copyright office can’t return a copy of something that was registered with it for use in court cases, and tell us who the owner might be. That is done for basically every car on the road right now, you just have to be a cop to access.

My_Name_Here says:

Once again, Masnick proves how ineffectual he is when it comes to influencing changes in policy and government. Your little liberal website is insignificant, short of rallying pirates to protest SOPA and bribe Wikipedia to let Google take over. But all it did was convince people that negotiating with consumers is futile, and hastened the process through which pro-IP laws and policies could be approved.

You brought these difficult changes on yourself, Masnick. And when Shiva takes down this website, I’ll be laughing.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I assume he’s talking about the guy whose reputation rests on the fiction that he invented email, rather than the fictional deity or the Final Fantasy character.

But, you have to laugh – if Mike and this website are so utterly ineffectual, why is this moron so obsessed with trying to attack and undermine them at every opportunity? I don’t know about anything else, but if I find something insignificant, I tend to spend my time elsewhere. It’s only the things that actually concern me that make me take time out of my day to address. Unless someone pays me to concern myself, of course.

My_Name_Here says:

Political, or Important?

Let’s trying turning the spin down a bit and consider all of the implications.

Yes there is a certain amount of political power here. Presidents love to have more places that they can put cronies and supporters. It’s the nature of the game. The copyright office isn’t any more or any less than hundreds of other appointment positions in the government.

Now, another point is that this is also a sort of promotion for the copyright office. IP is certainly a major part of the US economy these days, and the copyright office is one of the key parts of that system. It is certainly the government’s hand on the levers, if you like. Raising from a sub-office of the library of congress and making it something somewhat more significant isn’t such a bad thing.

Assuming it’s done only to push minimalist flunkies into the job is jumping the gun ever so slightly. Remember when Wheeler was appointed to the FCC, and everyone was freaking out? Now you miss him!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s not about the chance of a comeback of old material, it’s to block out the chances that Disney’s own material enters the public domain from which most of their successes were originally taken.

They’ll happily ensure that they can continue making money by making Beauty And The Beast again without owing royalties elsewhere, for example, but they don’t want the additions they made to Snow White to be used by others in the same way. Same with most of these other things – it’s about control, not the potential value of the content itself, especially as corporations either buy old copyrights and prevent unowned orphaned works to be used.

Ninja (profile) says:

“They claimed, falsely, that copyright creates 5 million jobs”

Silly him, obviously copyright is responsible for ALL JOBS EVER CREATED. Bear with me for a moment.

Let’s think planes. Artists have to travel, mafia members.. ahem, studio and label personnel too so obviously companies like United, Delta, Emirates and others exist because of copyright. That in turn mean that airplane makers exist only because of copyright and the supply chain behind them (raw materials, steel boards, wires, electric circuits) also exist because of copyright. I’m not even talking about Google because nobody searches for anything except copyrighted content produced by the mafia.. Er, Hollywood and the Great American Creative Sector ™. So obviously ISPs exist because of copyright and.. You got my point.

The conclusion is fairly obvious: every single job in existence is there because of copyright. Before copyright existed? There were just dumb apes swinging around and eating bananas. I have proclaimed the truth. An Masnick is a Google shill.


Median Wilfred says:

Probably emergent behavior, but...

This is probably just emergent behavior, no unifying underlying cause with other things happening. But a more politiciz4ed copyright office will probably serve to strengthen incumbents in “IP” industries, somewhat suppress free speech, and other generally retrograde things.

It’s part of a general trend towards screwing down all the controls on the US populace. “Law ‘n Order”, no anti-monopoly enforcement, no net neutrality, licensing of all trades, every trend serves to control the populace, keep things as they are economically.

I’mn NOT saying there’s an underlying conspiracy, it’s just the tendency of the world now. I think it will ultimately lead to a very severe economic downturn, but before that, increasing societal stratification. Neither of those things will do down well.

Thad (user link) says:

My rep, Sinema, was one of the Yeas.

I drive past her office every morning on my way to work. Next time she’s in town I really should set up an appointment to tell her how I feel about this.

Wish I’d done it during the latest recess, but this flew under my radar while I was concerned by other issues like healthcare and the recent ISP privacy deregulation. Which I expect was the point.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...