Thursday, April 30, 2015

Why the U.S. Copyright Office Wants to Run Away From Home; National Journal, 4/30/15

Kaveh Waddell, National Journal; Why the U.S. Copyright Office Wants to Run Away From Home:
"A federal office that has taken on the role of digital custodian and is now in charge of such 21st-century regulatory activities as approving mobile-phone jailbreaking and setting royalty rates for Internet radio says it needs out of its 19th-century home.
The U.S. Copyright Office has been part of the Library of Congress since 1897, and the office's director, Maria Pallante, told a congressional panel Wednesday it's time for a change, saying her office's hands are often tied as a part of the Library of Congress.
"The office's current organizational structure is under strain because the copyright system has evolved and because digital advancements have changed the expectations of the public," Pallante said in a written statement. She asked the committee to codify the Copyright Office's independence.
In many ways, an independent Copyright Office would operate much like it does now, Pallante said. Although part of a legislative-branch entity, the Justice Department has recognized that the Copyright Office behaves like, and should be treated like, an executive-branch agency.
In its current form, the office's uncertain legal status and subordination to the Library of Congress can create problems. A Government Accountability Office report last month found that the library's IT services, which the Copyright Office relies on, are stuck in the past and are detrimental to its work. And Pallante says it's difficult for her to hire the staff her office needs because of the conflicts between the mission—and the budget—of the Copyright Office and that of the Library of Congress."