Friday, July 3, 2015

Does the Copyright Office Belong in a Library?; Library Journal, 7/2/15

Kevin L. Smith, Library Journal; Does the Copyright Office Belong in a Library? :
"It has been a busy time for those of us who watch the doings of the Copyright Office. In addition to releasing a massive report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization, about which I have written here, the Copyright Office (CO) is the subject of a piece of legislation introduced as a discussion draft on June 3. The bill, if it were officially introduced and ultimately enacted, would remove the CO from the Library of Congress (LC) and establish it as an independent agency of the federal government, under the Executive Branch. Then, while we were still considering the ramifications of this idea, came the announcement on June 10 of the pending retirement of Dr. James Billington, who has been the Librarian of Congress for the past 29 years.
These events suggest long-term changes for the copyright and library communities, and it is worth taking a moment to consider, especially, the impact of the idea of making the Copyright Office an independent agency.
The first thing that strikes me about the “discussion draft” of the proposed law to establish the Copyright Office as an independent agency—called the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy (CODE) Act—is that it never says why it is needed...
In short, this bill seems like a solution in search of a problem, unless you accept that the problem is that music and movie companies are making less money than they would like. Rather than considering such an ill-advised bill, I hope that we will see, over the next year and a half or so, a new Librarian of Congress who will provide stronger leadership on many issues, but especially on the need to keep copyright policy, and the Copyright Office, firmly grounded in the needs and interests of all of the American public."

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