The Register of Copyrights is the director of the United States Copyright Office within the Library of Congress, as provided by 17 U.S.C. § 701. The Office has been headed by a Register since 1897. The Register is appointed by, and responsible to, the Librarian of Congress.
Although the title suggests a clerical role, Registers of Copyrights have been responsible for creating the procedures and practices of the Copyright Office and establishing standards for registration of copyright. They have increasingly been responsible for setting or influencing United States copyright policy. Today the Register is responsible for administering rulemaking procedures and producing authoritative interpretations of some aspects of U.S. copyright law, as well as advising the Librarian of Congress on the triennial proceeding on exceptions to the anticircumvention rules of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The Register also routinely testifies before Congress on copyright policy matters.
On April 26, 2017, the House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that, if approved by the Senate, will make Register of Copyrights a position that is filled by presidential appointment with Senate confirmation, rather than appointed by the Librarian of Congress—a policy that has been in place since the establishment of the Copyright Office, and impose a maximum term of 10 years. The bill has been supported by the entertainment industry and other groups (including the MPAA and RIAA), as the new selection procedure would give them the opportunity to lobby for a Register of Copyrights that aligns with their interests in stronger copyright protection. These effects have been the basis of opposition towards the bill by politicians, and groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge, which feel that the bill would give corporate stakeholders a higher level of influence over U.S. copyright policies, rather than balancing the laws to meet the needs of the public.
List of Registers of Copyrights
|No.||Image||Name||Start of term||End of term||Length of term||Notes|
|1||Thorvald Solberg||July 22, 1897||April 21, 1930||11,961 days||
|2||William Lincoln Brown||June 4, 1934||July 1, 1936||759 days|
|3||Clement Lincoln Bouvé||August 1, 1936||December 31, 1943||2,699 days|
|acting||Richard Crosby De Wolf||January 1, 1944||February 1, 1945||398 days||
|4||Sam Bass Warner||February 1, 1945||May 28, 1951||2,308 days|
|acting||May 28, 1951||September 12, 1951||108 days||
|5||September 12, 1951||November 12, 1960||3,350 days|
|6||Abraham L. Kaminstein||December 24, 1960||August 31, 1971||3,903 days|
|7||September 1, 1971||March 9, 1973||556 days|
|acting||March 10, 1973||November 19, 1973||255 days|
|8||Barbara Ringer||November 19, 1973||May 30, 1980||2,385 days||
|9||David Ladd||June 2, 1980||January 2, 1985||1,676 days|
|acting||January 3, 1985||September 10, 1985||251 days|
|10||Ralph Oman||September 23, 1985||January 8, 1994||3,031 days|
|acting||Barbara Ringer||November 27, 1993||August 6, 1994||253 days||
|11||Marybeth Peters||August 7, 1994||December 31, 2010||5,991 days|
|acting||Maria Pallante||January 1, 2011||May 31, 2011||151 days|
|12||Maria Pallante||June 1, 2011||October 21, 2016||1,970 days|
|acting||Karyn Temple||October 21, 2016||March 26, 2019||887 days||
|13||Karyn Temple||March 27, 2019||January 3, 2020||283 days||
|acting||Maria Strong||January 6, 2020||187 days (to date)||
- "Maria Strong Is Named Acting Register of Copyrights". Copyright Office NewsNet (792). U.S. Copyright Office. December 18, 2019. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
- "Big content cheers as Congress votes on changes to US Copyright Office". Ars Technica. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
- "House Passes Copyright Office Reform Bill". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
- "Congress is trying to give even more power to Hollywood". The Verge. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
- Patry, William F. (1994). Copyright Law and Practice. Greenwood Press. p. 1212. ISBN 978-0-87179-855-8.
- Patry, William F. (1994). Copyright Law and Practice. Greenwood Press. p. 1215. ISBN 978-0-87179-855-8.
- "George D. Cary". U.S. Copyright Office. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
- Hall, Alison (November 19, 2019). "Barbara Ringer: Beyond the ©". Copyright Creativity at Work. Library of Congress. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
- "Congressional Testimony by Register of Copyrights". United States Copyright Office. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
- "Registers of Copyrights". United States Copyright Office. Retrieved 2020-01-09.
- United States Code. 17 U.S.C. § 701.