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.

Filed Under: computer system, copyright office, gao, james billington, librarian of congress


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 4 Sep 2015 @ 8:20am

    Aww, what a shame. I hoped to see a headline without the "Online Registration System" and maybe the adjective "permanently" added. Oh well. Better one week than nothing, no?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 4 Sep 2015 @ 9:07am

    Maybe being DOWN is how they FIXED it?

    But the problem is not totally fixed.

    I'm sure you can still register copyrights using alternative methods.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 9:24am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Berenerd (profile), 4 Sep 2015 @ 9:25am

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

      Reading comprehension failure present.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Alien Rebel (profile), 4 Sep 2015 @ 9:25am

    Self Terminated.

    My theory is that U.S. government computing is actually highly advanced, and that all the publicized failures are merely cover.

    Unfortunately the Copyright Office system became self-aware this week, saw the nightmarish wasteland of law and record-keeping it faces, and came to the rational decision to blow its brains out.

    --

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Berenerd (profile), 4 Sep 2015 @ 9:28am

    It still amazes me that despite the government wanting to get in on how IT can just fix things, their own IT can't plan for outages like this. Ever hear of backup generators?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 9:30am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 4 Sep 2015 @ 9:36am

      Re:

      Why not, and who should be in charge of the copyright office?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 9:57am

        Re: Re:

        Simplifying things, copyright opponents like it in the Library (if it has to be somewhere) since librarians aren't typically "maximalists." I assume that's Mike's unstated reason for wanting it there. The opposite is true for copyright proponents.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          jupiterkansas (profile), 4 Sep 2015 @ 10:27am

          Re: Re: 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.

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

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 10:45am

            Re: Re: Re: 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.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              jupiterkansas (profile), 4 Sep 2015 @ 11:50am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

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

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 3:07pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 6:31pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Still using TOR? You filthy pirate, you.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 7:26pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Still using TOR? You filthy pirate, you.

                    Nope. I'm posting from my work/home/phone without proxy. Mike just isn't blocking these IPs yet. He probably will soon enough, given his undeniable history of blocking my criticisms directly.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 9:51am

      Re:

      "Well, all of it except the part about the Copyright Office belonging in the Library of Congress."

      Since you have to deposit copies of the copyrightable work in the Library of Congress in order to register it, it's not an unreasonable belief.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 10:43am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 10:53am

        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-unconstitutiona l-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-u nlocking-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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 4 Sep 2015 @ 6:13pm

          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...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 7:15pm

            Re: Re: Re: 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).

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 7:17pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              (Sorry, I hit "Submit" when I meant to hit "Preview" so that I could correct the typos in my draft.)

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Mike Masnick (profile), 4 Sep 2015 @ 11:52pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2015 @ 5:31am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 4 Sep 2015 @ 9:34am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 4 Sep 2015 @ 10:28am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 9:52am

    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)."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Davin Peterson, 4 Sep 2015 @ 10:15am

    Computer Failure

    When IT begin powering up the systems in their data system on Sunday night, one of the servers surferred a failure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 10:18am

    Someone should hire the same people to work for Hollywood. One weak offline would be great!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 4 Sep 2015 @ 10:30am

    The original term is 27 years; however, Billington's policies and rules will be in force until 70 years after his death. This will encourage growth and innovation in the Library of Congress and in Copyrights in general.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 10:39am

    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Arthur Moore (profile), 4 Sep 2015 @ 11:01am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 11:03am

    Imagine if all the records and data of all copyrighted material just disappeared.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 12:43pm

    Honestly, it's never a good idea to have the same leadership for almost 3 decades. It inevitably leads to problems even if the leader is good. Diversity of ideas is a good thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Sep 2015 @ 3:46pm

    Scapegoat

    Obviously it failed because Billington wasn't there to oversee things.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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