Is The Copyright Royalty Board Unconstitutional?

from the this-sounds-familiar... dept

Last month, we wrote about a Constitutional challenge to the patent appeals board. It was based on the theory that the Constitution clearly says that certain appointments can only be made by the President, the courts or the heads of a department. A legal change a few years back let the USPTO director appoint judges to the patent appeals board -- but the Patent Office director is not the head of a department. He reports to the Commerce Secretary who should be nominating the judges -- thus suggesting that all of the appointments over the last few years have been unconstitutional.

Of course, it didn't take long for folks to recognize that the same question may apply well beyond the patent appeals board. In fact, there's a court case challenging whether the current Copyright Royalty Board is constitutional as well. While the article doesn't go into details, it sounds like it's an identical issue. The CRB members are appointed by the Librarian of Congress rather than the President or the head of a department. This particular lawsuit has been filed by an organization that was hoping to compete with SoundExchange for collecting and distributing royalties. The CRB rejected the request. Given how many problems SoundExchange has had in carrying out its charter, it would seem like competition is a pretty good idea. However, rather than fighting that decision specifically, the company recognizes this same constitutional question. Funny how the boards involved in both copyrights and patents may be unconstitutional for the same basic reason.
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Filed Under: appointments, constitution, copyright royalty board, copyrights
Companies: soundexchange

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  1. identicon
    Craig, 17 May 2008 @ 7:34pm

    @A.L.Flanagan: I see what you did there. Very nice.

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