In a largely bi-partisan vote, the US House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1695, the “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017.” The Bill was introduced by Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va), and co-sponsored by Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich), among others. The 378-48 vote included 46 Democratic Nays. It is unclear whether the Bill will move forward in the Senate.
The proposal simply makes a structural change to the United States Copyright Office appointment process. Since 1897, the Register of Copyrights has been hired by the Librarian of Congress. The proposal provides for Presidential appointment of the Reigster of Copyright, with advice and consent of the Senate. The position would be largely independent: having a ten-year renewable term with removal only for cause.
According to the Judiciary Committee Report: “The legislation ensures that all future Registers are chosen through this public process and also resolves constitutional concerns regarding the authority of regulations promulgated by the U.S. Copyright Office.”