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STATEMENT OF DONALD C. CURRAN
THE ASSOCIATE LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS AND
ACTING REGISTER OF COPYRIGHTS

COPYRIGHT OFFICE

Before the Subcommittee on Courts, Civil Liberties,

and the Administration of Justice
House Committee on the Judiciary
99th Congress, First Session

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. The Copyright office welcomes

your

counsel and guidance with respect to

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

as

as

and the general condition of the Copyright Office, well major legislative and internat ional copyright issues that may be, or have already been, brought to your attention. I will begin with administrative developments and the functions of the Copyright office under the Copyright Act of 1976 and the Semiconductor Chip Protect ion Act of 1984.

I. ADMINISTRATION OF THE COPYRIGHT OFFICE

A. 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 Office is responsible for the administration of the Copyright Act (since 1897), and of the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984 (since January of this year). A central function of the Office is the examination and

registration of claims to original and renewal copyrights filed by authors and

other copyright owners.

The Examining Division of the Office annually

.

examines more than 500,000 claims to copyright in an

enormous variety of

books, music, motion pictures, sound recordings, dramatic works, and works of

our

art, and makes determinat ions regarding the legal sufficiency of the claims presented. The Division corresponds with applicants to clarify the scope of the claim and to develop an accurate public record.

The Copyright Office performs several other functions related to registration and recordat ion:

Cataloging Division prepares

and distributes bibliographic descript ions 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 collect ions.

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 files. It also maintains a public informat ion office to answer mail, telephone, and personal-visit inquiries about the copyright law and

registrat ion procedures. 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

an active publication program for the distribut ion, free-of-charge, of circulars and similar materials on copyright.

A significant aspect of the Copyright Office operations is its role in contribut ing to the collections of the Library of Congress. Under the Copyright Act of 1976 (as well as under the predecessor statute), copies of all works published in the United States with a notice of copyright are required to be deposited with the Copyright Office. Those copies are made

available, also by law, to the Library of Congress for its collect ions.

Copyright deposits are

thus

a principal base upon which the Library of

Congress builds its collect ions of books, periodicals, music, maps, prints, photographs, and motion pictures. Last year, the value of those Copyright Office-derived acquisitions, was about $7 million -- an interest ing figure

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. Our

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

secondary transmissions by cable television systems.

These coyalties, after

deduction of reasonable administrative expenses, are deposited with the Treasury Department for investment in interest-bearing U.S. securities and are

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determinat ions by the Copyright Royalty Tribunal, which is not a part of the

Copyright Office.

We record notices pertaining to the recording of musical

works, and to voluntary agreements regarding public broadcast ing's use of

copyrighted works.

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 assist ing in the further implementation of the

copyright law.

As required by the Copyright Act and at the request of members

of Congress, the Office conducts studies and submits reports to Congress on

specific subjects.

For example, within the past year,

the Office has

submitted studies on the size of copyright industries and the adequacy of

protection abroad for United States copyrighted works.

B. Administrative Developments

1.

Copyright registration process

In 1984, for the first time in its history, the Copyright Office

registered over one-half million claims during a fiscal year.

The 502,628

claims registered represented an increase of 14,372 claims over the 488,256

registered in fiscal 1983.

Workload figures, detailed in the chart of

Copyright Office Key Indicators appended to this statement, show a steady

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

has decreased by 3%.

In fiscal

1984 the Office continued to issue

certificates of registration for

routine claims (those requiring no

correspondence) within the office goal of three to four weeks.

The registration workload was handled with no increase in staff. A number

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

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rules, and installation of new and more efficient cataloging terminals.

During the first half of FY 1985, the Office experienced a surge in receipts; during October March 1985, 20,000 more claims were received for

processing than in the

same time period in FY 1984; this represents a 7%

increase in workload.

The normal rate of increase for this time period over

the last 5 years has been 3%.

The timing of this increase

was

most

unfortunate, since it is during these months that a number of holidays and

holiday-related leave occur, which each year

causes the office to develop

backlogs of work to be processed. In addition, during October March '85, the divisions most involved in the registrat ion process, experienced a 14% vacancy

rate. These vacancies are currently posted; we hope to fill them within the next 2-4 months. Even with the increase in receipts, the 1984 product ivity

rate was maintained (work completed during October-March FY '84: 261,000;

completed October March FY '85: 262,000).

However, because of the increase

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, for handling

the backlogs to be processed.

These include streamlined procedures, use of

temporary/student summer employees, and judicious application of overtime and

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