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Mr. KASTENMEIER. If there are no other questions, we thank you for your appearance. I know it has been rather difficult. I don't know whether it is the end of it. I share the gentleman from Virginia's concern about credibility here because there are a number of important duties you will have. I can only wonder whether you can discharge them as you think you may be able to. But in any event, this committee is concerned about the future of the Tribunal, and if this matter is reconciled we will, I presume, be working with you, Ms. Hall.
Ms. Hall. Thank you.
Next, the Chair would like to call, representing the Copyright Office as Acting Register, Mr. Donald Curran. Mr. Curran joined the staff of the Library of Congress in 1961, has worked in a variety of positions, including Associate Librarian of Congress, a title he presently holds concurrently with that of Acting Register.
So, Mr. Curran, we are very pleased to have you here this afternoon. Your 36-page statement will, without objection, be made part of the record, and you may proceed as you wish. But prior to doing so, as I indicated at the outset, I would like to be able to swear you in as a witness.
(Subcommittee and GPO staff have made necessary grammatical and technical changes to the text of the following testimony. A copy of the original testimony is on file with the subcommittee.]
Mr. KASTENMEIER. You may wish to identify your colleagues for us as well. TESTIMONY OF DONALD C. CURRAN, ACTING REGISTER, COPY.
RIGHT OFFICE, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, ACCOMPANIED BY DOROTHY SCHRADER, ASSOCIATE REGISTER OF COPYRIGHTS FOR LEGAL AFFAIRS, AND GRACE REED, EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Mr. CURRAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for having us here today. On my right is Dorothy Schrader, the Associate Register for Legal Affairs, who has been a frequent witness, of course, before this subcommittee; and on my left is Grace Reed, the executive officer in the Copyright Office.
We do have a lengthy statement, and I have a much briefer one which I would like to read. It will take, perhaps, 5 or 6 minutes, if I may do so.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. We have been interrupted at this very moment by a vote on the floor. So we will have another 10-minute recess, after which time we will return to hear you.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. The committee will resume its sitting. And the Chair would, again, like to yield to Mr. Curran for his statement.
Mr. CURRAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I will review briefly the administrative developments and general conditions in the Copyright Office, as well as other major legislative and international copyright issues that may have been brought to your attention earlier.
First of all, the Copyright Office is one of seven departments in the Library with a staff of 500 employees and a current-year budget of $17 million. We annually examine more than 500,000 claims to copyright for books, music, motion pictures, sound recordings, dramatic works, and works of art, and make determinations regarding the legal sufficiency of the claims presented.
A significant aspect of our role is contributing to the collections of the Library of Congress. Under the Copyright Act of 1976, copies of all works published in the United States with a notice of copyright are required to be deposited with the Copyright Office. These deposits are the primary acquisition sources upon which the Library and the Congress builds its collections.
In 1984, for the first time in its history, the Copyright Office registered over one-half million claims during the fiscal year; 502,628 claims were registered. That represented 14,372 claims higher than the previous year. Throughout the year we issued certificates of registration for routine claims; that is, those that did not require any correspondence, within the Office's goal of 3 to 4 weeks without an increase in staff. During the first half of the current year we have experienced a surge in receipts, and during the OctoberMarch period we registered 20,000 more claims than in the previous year. This represents an increase of 7 percent in the workload. In previous years during the first 6 months, the workload increase was in the order of 3 percent.
I should add that since then we have noticed that receipts are continuing to come in at a higher rate, and this, although our productivity from 1984 has been maintained, the increased receipts at this time has caused our normal processing time to increase from 4 weeks to approximately 7 weeks to issue a certificate. We are looking for ways and means of handling the backlog that is building up. This includes streamlined procedures, use of temporary students, summer employees, and judicious application of overtime and compensatory time. However, I would note that it is a matter of some concern to us if this trend continues.
I would also like to make a few comments about the mask works bill, which, of course, became effective here in January of this year and legislation which concerned this committee last year. The mask work unit, which is located in the examining division, has received 71 claims for protection of mask works embodied in a semiconduct chip as of April 15, 1985. All those claims have been examined and 17 have been registered; 14 were refused registration because they were first commercially exploited prior to July 1, 1983; the other 40 are in correspondence, including 15 that contest the validity of that portion of the interim regulations governing mask works fixed in an intermediate form of a chip. We expect some substantial increase in our receipts as the deadline for registration of mask works first commercially exploited between July 1, 1983, and November 7, 1984, approaches.
I would like to say a few words about automation. The second stage of COINS III, the on-line tracking of deposit account registration system, went into effect last year on February 23, 1984. Thus, about 55 percent of the registration workload is now being tracked online in the computer system. As early as May 1983, it was recognized that the Data General minicomputers being used in the
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COINS production would not be able to handle the 63 work stations which were being planned for the full system's operation.
The automated systems office completed a study to determine replacement for the aging Data General mini-computers and decided on the new Data General 10000. This machine can support 192 work stations and has the added benefit of being able to run COIN's III software with minimal conversion. It was delivered to the Library in February 1985 and is now undergoing acceptance testing, and we estimate that the process will be completed in approximately 4 months. And we are therefore looking forward to implementation of COINS later in this summer.
There are a number of legislative issues which we have developed and presented in our full statement, and for the sake of brevity, I would like to bring two to your attention which are of concern, or which are maybe of special concern. I would like to then close with some remarks about the role of the Library and the Copyright Office, and the relationships, some of those relationships.
As far as legislative issues go, the first I would like to talk about is the status of low-power television signals under the cable compulsory license. For larger cable systems, the classification of a retransmitted broadcast station signal as local or distant markedly affects the calculation of copyright royalties. Larger cable systems pay royalties under a formula of which one factor is the number of distant signals retransmittedy.
Although the Federal Communications Commission does not regard low-power television stations as must carries for purpose of the communications law, the Copyright Office decided, after public hearings last October, that the Copyright Act is ambiguous concerning the status of low-power stations. The Office recommends amendment of the definition of local service area of a primary transmitter to make clear whether Congress intends low-power signals to be classified as local or distant for the purposes of computing royalties under the compulsory license.
Finally, for consideration of the U.S. adherence to the Berne Convention. Mr. Chairman, as you know, there are two worldwide multilateral treaties regulating copyright relationships among nations. The Universal Copyright Convention, of which the United States has been a member since 1955, and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. The United States is not a member. The Berne Convention has existed since 1886.
Simply stated, we have not joined the Berne Convention in the past largely because our domestic copyright law has never satisfied the minimum obligations of the convention at its various stages of development. It is not my purpose at this hearing to comment on the pros and cons of the U.S. adherence to Berne.
We at the Copyright Office are in the process of developing a position which we will recommend to the Librarian of Congress. I do want to call your attention to the revival of interest in the Berne Convention issue, to the study efforts now underway in the private sector and in Government circles, and to the likelihood that the Senate may hold public hearings on this question. The Copyright Office urges the subcommittee to engage itself fully in the issues surrounding adherence to Berne, and, as the chairman and mem
bers deem appropriate, to coordinate with your counterparts in the Senate on a program for thorough analysis of the benefits and the disadvantages of adherence and the nature and scope of possible implementing legislation.
At various times in the recent past, questions have arisen concerning the place of the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress and, of course, most recently here today, as to the proper role of the register in carrying out the law. I would like to make a few brief remarks concerning our position in these matters. And I would add that the remarks I have here are shared by the Librarian of Congress, Dan Boorstin.
The Library of Congress, through law and historical development, has become in its 185-year history a custodian of the largest collection of intellectual property gathered in any one place. It is no accident that the Congress in 1870 gave the Library of Congress responsibility for administering the U.S. Copyright Law. It is the one place in the U.S. Government where the creator of intellectual property and the user of that property come together promoting the progress of science and the useful arts.
We have a somewhat biased view, but we believe that the Nation has been well served by the Library and its Copyright Office, and will continue to be so in the future. The benefits that are flowing to the national library and to the world of learning as a result of the deposit system are both tangible and intangible. It brings to the Nation in one place a vast body of intellectual property, published and unpublished, created by our citizens in all formats, shapes, and sizes. Much of what is obtained through deposit is not readily available or, indeed, available at all through conventional purchases or through other order arrangements.
Of course the Library obtains many thousands of items worldwide through purchase, through gift, through exchange, but copyright deposit continues to be a key element of our total acquisitions effort. Our collections are replete with unique materials acquired through the deposit process.
Substantial benefits also flow to the copyright system in the relationship of a major U.S. cultural institution with the copyright process. We believe that the Library has an intellectually stimulating working environment which is both attractive and supportive of the Copyright Office. We are able to attract and keep people who understand the importance of protecting intellectual property,
In a like manner, Library management is sensitive to the significance and importance of an activity whose function is to examine, catalog, record, process intellectual property pursuant to the copyright laws of the United States. These are not qualities always found in a large Government bureaucracy. The Library of Congress and its Copyright Office are compatible and mutually supportive.
The responsibilities of the Copyright Office are plainly set forth in title XVII. The Register directs all administrative functions and duties under title XVII not otherwise specified. Section 702 authorizes the Register to establish regulations for the administration of copyright law with the approval of the Librarian of Congress. The Register is appointed by the Librarian and carries out the duties of office made under his general direction and supervision.
The copyright law is sometimes characterized as arcane or even metaphysical. Perhaps so. However, the functions of the Office and the Register need not be so. 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 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 succinctly stated in the position description certified by the Librarian, which, very briefly, states:
The Register of Copyrights is responsible for administering the copyright law and to the public interest accepting or rejecting claims to copyright, operating the Copyright Office in such a manner as to give maximum service to the creators and users of literary and artistic property and their attorneys and representatives. The Register of Copyright has the responsibility of serving as a principal technical adviser to the United States Government on national and international matters, advising the Congress concerning the provisions of the Constitution vesting the power in Congress to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts."
My colleagues and I are, of course, here to answer all your questions, sir.
[The statement of Mr. Curran follows:]