On December 8, 2016, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Member John Conyers proposed to modernize the U.S. Copyright Office for the 21st Century. The proposal would allow the Copyright Office to have autonomy over its budget and technology needs. The proposal also would allocate to the Copyright Office the necessary funds for information technology modernization, enabling the Copyright Office to maintain a “searchable, digital database of historical and current copyright ownership information.”
The Copyright Office is long overdue for technology modernization and FSF scholars have made multiple statements regarding this need. (See here, here, and here.) Modernization is necessary for our copyright system to achieve its important purposes of protecting artists’ and creators’ rights to earn a return on their labor and to facilitate market transactions in copyrights in a way that promotes “the Progress of Science and useful Arts.”We commend Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers for their proposal and hope it quickly passes through the House of Representatives.