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establish regulations for the administration of the copyright law with the
approval of the Librarian of Congress.
The Register is appointed by the
Librarian and carries out the duties of the Office under his general direction
and supervision. Copyright law is sometimes characterized as arcane or even metaphysical. Perhaps so; however the functions of the Office and the
Register need not be. Our purpose is to administer the law as it exists in a
fair and equitable manner and to assist the Congress and the Nation in the development of copyright policy responsive to the public interest. We serve
the Congress and the Nation, and it is our intention to do so in as evenhanded
a fashion as possible.
The duties of the Register are most succinctly stated
in the position description certified by the Library.
"The Register of Copyrights responsible for administering the copyright law in the public interest, accepting or rejecting claims to copyright, and operating the Copyright office in such a manner as to give maximum service to creators and users of literary and artistic property and their attorneys and representatives.
The Register of Copyrights has the responsibility of serving as principal technical adviser to the United States Government on national and international copyright matters and advising Congress concerning the provision of the Constitution vesting the power in Congress to "promote the progress of Science and useful Arts ..."
Mr. KASTENMEIER. With respect to the value of the Library of Congress and its collections and copyright deposits, with which I concur, doesn't the Berne Convention adherence affect that function, prospectively, in this country?
Mr. CURRAN. We understand that is one of the issues which, of course, would need to be carefully considered and thought out. When we talk about adherence, there are many, of which, obviously, I am not competent to go into today. But there is a significant point of view that suggests that the deposit laws can be-that you can have deposit laws and still be in adherence to Berne. Many countries, presumably, as I understand it, do that. And that would be precisely our point, to ensure that the kinds of things which we think are critical and important in the American copyright system are preserved in any Berne adherence. Considerations that might be made here.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. Well, I note your urging this subcommittee to engage itself fully in the matter of Berne adherence and you further instruct us to coordinate with the other body, with the Senate counterpart, I gather.
Mr. CURRAN. Our remarks there, and I hope they are not misinterpreted, are simply to suggest that any consideration of Berne adherence necessarily involves both the House and the Senate, and certainly that is true with regard to any changes in legislation that might be required in that process.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. Mr. Ladd, for whom I have great personal affection—I have known him for many, many years--gave 3 months' notice before his departure. Now, it's 3 months, maybe 4 months have gone by and, even though you are doing a splendid job, Mr. Curran, we don't have a permanent Register. Can you tell us why the selection process is taking so long?
Now, I know it is the Librarian's function and not yours, but still I think you must be close enough to it to give us some advice on what is transpiring.
Mr. CURRAN. I share your concern. And I would only-if I may take just a couple of minutes to take you through the process, but I will speak to the end first. The best qualified list is in the hands of the Librarian. I understand they are making appointments for interviews now, and then, hopefully, they will be interviewing in the immediate future. To set up appropriate interviews, and that decision will be forthcoming in the near future.
The worst is behind us as far as I know. The process is, however, unfortunately long and tedious, and I share your concern. I am sure the Librarian shares your concern. And perhaps we need to do something about that. But the process in this case was in the first instance to organize a search committee, since it was considered a matter of some importance, to find people who might not otherwise come forth through an advertising process, and that consisted of Dan Lacey, a vice president of McGraw-Hill, Bob Wedgworth, the executive director of the American Library Association, and Stanley Gortikoff, president of Recording Industry Association of America and, I believe, chairman of the board of the Copyright Council as well.
That group did make some effort at trying to search about and find people who would be willing to take the job and might be in
terested in doing it. And they did their thing and that took some time. At the same time, we were advertising in accordance with our own rules and regulations in appropriate newspapers, and I am not sure which ones, but there were a list of papers where we were advertising. And then there is a process of going through the list and determining those who are qualified. This is in accordance with the Librarian's regulations and systems.
That having been done, then there is a panel of senior managers—I was not one of them—who looked at these people who were determined to be qualified, and from that, weeded it down to a best qualified list. And that is the group the Librarian now has, and he is setting up interviews and appointments.
I share your concern, sir. I think it is intolerable and it is too long. Mr. KASTENMEIER. If you will permit an aside,
I hope they are not using the same computer the White House is. [Laughter.]
Mr. CURRAN. We are in the legislative branch, sir. I don't think we do that.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. Maybe at this point I should yield to my colleague, Mr. Boucher, for any questions he may have. Obviously, we are going to be running off here in a moment or two.
Mr. BOUCHER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I really just have one question.
We have heard some testimony today from the Chairman of the Copyright Royalty Tribunal, during the course of which she has suggested that additional staff be provided for that agency. It is my understanding that the agency relies today on the Copyright Office for its technical and research support.
Do you believe that that relationship should continue in that manner, or do you think that the Copyright Royalty Tribunal should be given that staff on its own?
Mr. CURRAN. I think it is a fair question, and I think it is one that I don't believe I can accurately summarize or characterize very briefly here. The background of the 1976 act is one that I, personally, am not familiar with. I am going to ask Dorothy Scrader, our counsel, who is much more knowledgeable about this than I, to add her comments.
But we run the Licensing Division as provided by the law; and, frankly, I think that works rather well. As far as I know, it works rather well, and my experience might be not shared by others. But the process of—there are 25 people who are doing this: The process of carrying out the law, of collecting the money, issuing the licenses, doing all the things-investing the money-works as far as I know as smoothly as that sort of thing can work. And the Library supports it rather heavily; that is, the division itself, with the resources of the Copyright Office, which are not charged back I should add, the space which is not charged back, an assortment of things that we do to see that they get their job done. And as far as I know, they do precisely that: They get their job done.
Now, the kinds of things that the Tribunal wants some assistance in doing are decisions that the Congress is going to have to decide. I mean, what do you want the Tribunal to be? Do you want it to be a judiciary kind of thing, a tribunal that makes certain decisions among competing parties? Do you want it to have a differ
ent kind of responsibility and a different kind of role? This is where I think you have to go back to the act of 1976 and start over, and say, well, and if you want them to do certain kinds of things, then I guess you are going to have to give them the staff to do that.
Mr. BOUCHER. Thank you. We do need to depart now. Thank you very much for the answer.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. Certainly. Otherwise, we miss the vote.
Mr. BOUCHER. It would be helpful, perhaps, if you could make some written response. I wouldn't want to put you to a lot of trouble.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. I would make the same request. I have a couple of questions as well, but I think we should adjourn in view of the hour, and the fact we have to go vote again. So we will put our further questions to you in writing. And we thank you very much for your appearance today.
Mr. CURRAN. Thank you, sir.
[Whereupon, at 3:52 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned, to reconvene subject to the call of the Chair.)
On behalf of the National Cable Television Association, I am pleased to transmit our statement concerning administration of the Copyright Act of 1976.
NCTA respectfully requests that this statement be made part of the record of the Subcommittee's oversight of the Copyright Royalty Tri bunal and the Copyright office in the administration of this Act.
James P. Mooney