COPYRIGHT FIGHT COULD AFFECT RADIO ROYALTY BILL.

With a number of copyright-related issues brewing for radio, a bipartisan effort in Congress to allow the President to appoint the Register of Copyrights is drawing praise from the National Association of Broadcasters.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and ranking member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) on Friday introduced a bill as part of their ongoing efforts to update the Copyright Office. The proposed Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act would require the register to be nominated by the President and subject to Senate confirmation by the U.S. Senate. It would also limit the position to a ten-year term although it could be renewed by another presidential nomination and Senate confirmation.

In a joint statement, Goodlatte and Conyers say the new appointment process will make the register’s position more “transparent and accountable” to Congress. “We must ensure that any new register is a good manager and fully qualified to lead and make this office more operationally effective,” they say, adding, “The next register of copyrights should be dedicated to serving all stakeholders in the copyright ecosystem.”

The legislation, if approved, could avoid a showdown over filling the register of copyrights position. Maria Pallante was forced out of the job last October by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden who has said she planned to fill the post on her own.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-CO) says passage of the bill has “become necessary” because Hayden has rejected efforts by Congress to give the register “greater autonomy” from the Library of Congress. “It’s become necessary to take swift, bipartisan action to give the Copyright Office the tools it needs to function properly, including a new leadership structure,” Collins says.

While Pallante had won praise from the music industry and content owners she was frequently at odds with broadcasters, including for her position that AM/FM radio should pay a performance royalty to record labels and artists. The National Association of Broadcasters welcomed a bill that would put the task of naming her successor into the White House. “As representatives of both significant owners and users of copyrighted material, NAB supports passage of this bill and will continue to work with lawmakers on broader efforts to modernize the copyright office,” NAB president Gordon Smith says in a statement.


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