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Tell Congress Not to Make the Register of Copyrights a Presidential Pawn

November 20, 2019 In Design News,Digital Freedom

Copyright has a huge effect on our daily lives, often controlling access to movies, books, music, and art. That in turn has an effect on our digital devices, which display, play, and help create copyrighted material constantly. Copyright is also inextricable from free speech, as it can be used as a tool to silence criticism. It’s important that the person in charge of the Copyright Office be apolitical.

Congress is considering a bill—the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act—which would make the Register of Copyrights a presidential appointee. In August, proponents of the bill stated in a hearing that this is a good idea because the process of a presidential nomination and confirmation is more neutral and fair then hiring a long-serving public servant for the job. 

This isn’t true. An appointee will be more beholden to the political beliefs of the President, not less. And who is appointed by the President is more easily influenced by big media and entertainment companies who view copyright as being all about their rights to own things and not our rights to speech, create, or use our devices. The Copyright Office, if deployed to carry out a political agenda, can do great harm to how we use the Internet today.

While this bill has already passed the House, the Senate has not voted on it yet. In fact, it’s still in committee. We can stop it now. Tell your Senators to not make the Register of Copyrights a presidential pawn. Tell them to vote “no” on the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act.