After briefly stalling, a bill that would empower Donald Trump to appoint the next Register of Copyrights is expected to come to a vote in the House of Representatives next week, and sources tell PW that, if that happens, the bill will likely pass.
In an April 19 release, the House Committee on Rules set a deadline for amendments to the bill, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, (H.R. 1695), for Monday, April 24, after which, barring other issues, the bill could swiftly move to the floor. While opposition to the bill had been mounting, especially among Democrats not inclined to give President Trump more power, sources say the bill has the votes to pass. The bill also has support in the Senate, although its potential fate there is unclear.
On March 29, by a 27-1 vote, the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill, which would block the Librarian of Congress from appointing the next Register of Copyrights, and instead, transfer that authority to the President, with Senate confirmation. A question of jurisdiction delayed a vote earlier this month, but that issue now appears resolved.
Supporters of the bill say it is needed to help "modernize" the Copyright Office, and to and make it more accountable to Congress. Critics, however, say the bill does nothing to modernize the Copyright Office, instead punting those issues to future legislation, while giving the executive branch more power over the Copyright Office, at the behest of the entertainment industries, and over the objections of library, tech, and public advocacy groups.
Despite plans to bring the bill to a vote this week, it could still be delayed, as Congress has other pressing issues in its first week back from a recess, including a new healthcare bill that reportedly could surface next week.