Call to Action, Library of Congress Survey

Fri 20th Jan, 2017

in Copyright, Survey

Please share this post.  It is in the best interest of all creators to make sure the person selected to be the next Register of Copyrights is someone who supports the creative community.

Library of Congress Survey  is open to the public - Please respond by January 31

The Library of Congress has started the process of filling the position of Register of Copyrights, formerly held by the much-admired Maria Pallante. Pallante was removed from office on October 21 by the new Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden. In an unprecedented move, the Library is first seeking public input on the qualifications for the incoming Register of Copyrights and the issues the new Register should focus on.

While it is highly unusual for a government agency to solicit public input on the qualifications of a government appointee (those in the best position to know the requirements of a government agency job are those who work in or with the agency), we encourage all of you to participate, as we can expect the tech community—based on past Copyright Office public comment proceedings—to generate tens of thousands of responses. Further, we believe that the survey’s goals are noble ones—to solicit public opinion as an attempt to create an open and transparent process, and to quell the uproar that arose within the creative community upon learning of Pallante’s removal.

The survey asks any member of the public to respond via SurveyMonkey to a few simple questions—what qualities the Register should possess, what issues he or she should focus on, and what other factors should be considered. The survey provides no background on what the responsibilities of the Register are or even what the Copyright Office does. While we find the usefulness of this public survey—especially as it does not first educate potential respondents—questionable, we encourage our members and all other authors and creators to complete it. It’s important that the Library hear from individual creators, on how the Register will best serve the independent creative community. Here is some background on the role and responsibilities of the Copyright Office.

The online survey, available here, will be open to the public through January 31, 2017.

There are 3 questions on the survey. 

With sample responces compiled by the Copyright Alliance, the Authors Guild, and the Illustration Partnership, we are providing you with a selection of answers  below. Feel free to use as much or little as you like, but keep in mind that a variety of responses, written in each author’s own words, is likely to be more persuasive than a series of identical responses.

1. What are the knowledge, skills, and abilities you believe are the most important for the Register of Copyrights?

The next Register of Copyrights must: 

  • Have the experience and the skills to authentically articulate and evangelize the importance and value of copyright and creativity and the benefits of a strong copyright system and modernizing the Copyright Office;
  • Believe in the importance of creative works to our society, understanding the important, growing role they play in the U.S. economy, as well as the cultural value of creative works;
  • Be capable of articulating and evangelizing the benefits of a strong copyright system;
  • Be committed to establishing the Copyright Office as an independent agency outside the Library of Congress with autonomous regulatory authority and control over its own budget and IT systems;
  • First-hand experience with the legislative process, including working with the House and Senate Judiciary Committees;
  • Understand the need to protect copyrighted material as the private property of creators;
  • Understand that copyright protections afforded creators does not rob the public of an imaginary entitlement;
  • Understand and appreciate that most creators are small business owners who operate in a business world in which large content firms enjoy unequaled bargaining power;
  • Understand that corporations don't create; individuals do;
  • Understand that copyright  protects both the business interests of professional creators and the personal privacy rights of all citizens;
  • Understand that copyright is a human right- not one bestowed by government - as codified in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that all creators therefore enjoy "the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he [or she] is the author."
  • Understand that creators are individuals who lack the lobbying resources of large corporations with multi-million dollar lobbying budgets and full time lobbyists;
  • Recognize and appreciate that Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution specifies that creators enjoy copyright as an "exclusive right" and does not contain any provision for creating new rights for users by means of statutory legislation;
  • Recognize that any effort to re-introduce mandatory registration (even as a de facto requirement)  would create an impossible burden of compliance on creators and  result in millions of managed copyrights falling through the cracks and into the public domain;
  • Have a vision for the Copyright Office of the future that supports the work of creators and is generally consistent with the views espoused by Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers in their November 2016 policy proposal;
  • Have experience with and understanding of the statutory responsibilities of the Copyright Office, and the services it provides, especially copyright registrations, renewals, and recordations of transfers and other documents;
  • Most importantly, have the support of the copyright community.

2. What should be the top three priorities for the Register of Copyrights?

Priority #1: Advocate for the importance and value of copyright and creativity and articulate and promote the benefits of a strong copyright system and a modern Copyright Office;

Priority #2: Modernize the Copyright Office by immediately implementing the Copyright Office’s IT modernization plan, which includes making the registration and recordation process easier and more affordable -while ensuring that the Copyright Office and its modernization efforts are financed by means other than registration and recordation fees of individual creators

Priority #3: To recognize the threats digital piracy poses to the rights of authors and the value of their copyrights, and to reset the balance of the current notice and takedown statute to ensure that ISPs are not improperly profiting from unauthorized digital uses of creative works.

3. Are there other factors that should be considered?

As a creator, I believe that the views of creators who make their living in whole or in part through copyrights (as well as those who represent the interests of those creators) should be given greater weight in this survey than those who are not. It is also important that both the views of the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, and of all living former Registers, be taken into account in the selection of the next Register.

An unbiased Register should NOT be a former lobbyist, lawyer, law professor, etc. associated with big internet firms or with institutions that receive or have received funding from such firms.

An unbiased Register should NOT have lobbied for orphan works legislation, open source content or been associated with firms that have lobbied for those interests.

Here is a link to the survey from the Library of Congress



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