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STATEMENT OF DONALD C. CURRAN
Before the Subcommittee on Courts, Civil Liberties,
and the Administration of Justice
April 23, 1985
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I am Donald C. Curran,
The Associate Librarian of Congress and Acting Register of Copyrights in the
Copyright Office of the Library of Congress.
I thank you and the Subcommittee
staff for giving me the opportunity to appear at this oversight hearing.
administrative, legislative, and internat ional copyright policy issues, and
we are prepared to assist the Subcommittee by providing technical information,
background studies, and draft legislative proposals, at your direction.
At this hearing, I will review briefly administrative developments
legislative and international copyright issues that may be, or have already
will begin with
developments and the functions of the Copyright Office under the Copyright Act
of 1976 and the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984.
ADMINISTRATION OF THE COPYRIGHT OFFICE
Functions of the Copyright Office
The Copyright Office is one of seven departments in the Library of
Congress, which itself, of course, lies within the Legislative Branch. The
is responsible for the administration of the Copyright Act (since
1897), and of the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984 (since January of
registration of claims to original and renewal copyrights filed by authors and
books, music, motion pictures, sound recordings, dramat ic works, and works of art, and makes determinat ions regarding the legal sufficiency of the claims
The Division corresponds with applicants to clarify the scope of
distributes bibliographic descriptions of all registered works; the Division
records documents pertaining to copyight and mask works, and provides basic
cataloging for many of the Library's special collections.
Our Information and Reference Division searches and reports, upon
request, the copyright facts contained in our records, provides certified
copies of certificates of registration, and assists the public in using our
Unlike some other federal agencies, we often deal
directly with individual authors and users who are not generally sophisticated
in copyright and the legal aspects of registration. Finally, the Division has
A significant aspect of the Copyright office operations is its role
in contributing to the collections of the Library of Congress.
Copyright Act of 1976 (as well as under the predecessor statute), copies of
Congress builds its collections of books, periodicals, music, maps, prints,
when compared to our annual budget of about $17 million with some $6 million
further offset by collected fees.
In many of these areas, copyright deposits
form the greatest part of the Library's acquisitions.
In addition to the functions described above, the Copyright Act of
1976 gave additional responsibilities to the Copyright Office with respect to
administration of the four compulsory licenses provided for in the Act.
Licensing Division now licenses jukeboxes to perform copyrighted music and
collects the statutory royalties under these licenses.
The Licensing Division
also collects the royalties paid under the statutory compulsory license for
Treasury Department for investment in interest-bearing U.S. securities and are
determinations by the Copyright Royalty Tribunal, which is not
a part of the
We record notices pertaining to the recording of musical
works, and to voluntary agreements regarding public broadcast ing's
The Copyright Office regularly assists both houses of Congress and
their staffs in preparing and comment ing on legislative proposals, responding
to constituent inquiries, and assisting in the further implementation of the
As required by the Copyright Act and at the request of members
of Congress, the Office conducts studies and submits reports to Congress on
registered over one-half million claims during a fiscal year.
decrease in staffing amount ing to 19% from fiscal year 1979 to 1984 (or, 121
fewer staff). During the same period, the annual rate of receipts has steadily
increased, up 24% from FY 1979 to FY 1984; during the same period the amount
of work completed has increased 16% and the physical inventory of work on hand
correspondence) within the Office goal of three to four weeks.
The registration workload was handled with no increase in staff.
of work improvements made the increased output possible.
Among these were:
cross training and redistribut ion of staff resources to heavy workload areas;
a 3 percent reduction in the correspondence rate from 20 percent to 17 percent
rules, and installation of new and more efficient cataloging terminals.
During the first half of
the Office experienced a
receipts; during October -March 1985, 20,000 more claims were received for
in the same
time period in FY 1984; this represents a
increase in workload.
The normal rate of increase for this time period over
divisions most involved in the registration process, experienced a 14% vacancy
are currently posted; we hope to fill them within the
in receipts, the holiday season and the unusually high vacancy rate, the time
period for issuance of a certificate without correspondence has slipped from
the normal 4 weeks to a present 7 week timeframe.
We are looking at means, other than massive use of overtime,
the backlogs to be processed.
These include streamlined procedures, use of
temporary/student summer employees, and judicious application of overtime and