Political intrigue may kill hope for passage of copyright reform.

Andrew AlbaneseEfforts to advance copyright reform on Capitol Hill are not limited to a single piece of legislation. And thereby hangs a tale of inside-the-Beltway politics.

In the 115th Congress now in session, proposed legislation in the House of Representatives includes the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017 (HR 1695) and the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act (HR 890). The former would shift responsibility for appointment of the US Register of Copyrights to the President from the Librarian of Congress; the latter, more ambitious bill establishes the U.S. Copyright Office as a separate independent agency in the legislative branch.

“Despite lining up 33 bipartisan co-sponsors, as well as support in the Senate, and despite the Judiciary Committee rushing the bill through markup and out of committee in just six days, HR 1695 is now stalled,” reports Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer. “With the House now in recess, it’s unclear how quickly the measure will be picked up again – or if it will be at all – once lawmakers return on April 25.”

According to Albanese, political intrigue over the fate of 1695 is likely to affect HR 890 as well, and may kill any hope for passage of any copyright reform legislation.

“It didn’t need to be this way,” he tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “There is actually broad consensus that the Copyright Office is in dire need of modernization. Rounding up support for more resources and more attention shouldn’t be hard. Instead, here we are, in a contentious debate.”

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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