WASHINGTON - Chairman Bryan Steil (WI-01) opened today's Full Committee Hearing titled, "The U.S. Copyright Office: Customers, Communities, and Modernization Efforts."

Chairman Steil's full opening statement as prepared for delivery: 

As a part of the Committee on House Administration’s oversight of the Legislative Branch, today we will focus on the U.S. Copyright Office operations.  

We will explore how the U.S. Copyright Office is modernizing, assisting customers, and engaging with stakeholders.  

As a Legislative Branch entity, this Committee has oversight of the U.S. Copyright office.  

Since becoming a part of the Library of Congress in 1870, the Copyright Office has grown to become a critical lynchpin in the U.S. economy.  

The Copyright industry impacts roughly 16 million jobs.  

So, who requires a copyright? 

A variety of industries engage with the Copyright office on a daily basis. I’ll name just a few:  

They engage with singers, song writers, authors, filmmakers, the media, software engineers, and more. 

Where does the Committee on House Administration come into copyright issues, one might ask?  

The Committee has oversight of the office’s operations  

Each year, the Copyright office works with thousands of individuals and examines their copyright claims.   

These records are supplemented with thousands of documents, representing hundreds of thousands of titles of work.  

In recent years, we have seen an uptick in the volume of work submitted to the office.  

Today we will explore how the offices operations have been challenged and how they have worked to improve customer experiences and make it simpler, easier, and more efficient for everyday copyright holders to register their works.  

By registering copyrights in a timely manner, individual creativity – and individual businesses – can thrive. 

As the Copyright office knows, many high-volume artists, like photographers for example, are having difficulty registering their works due to an expensive and time-consuming registration process.  

Let’s use wedding photographers as an example.  

They take hundreds of photos during an average wedding.  

The current online system prevents photographers from uploading in large batches, making it difficult to meet client deadlines and to protect their works.  

Ensuring timely registration of copyrights is of the utmost importance, particularly to ensure works are protected. 

As technology rapidly evolves, widespread copyright infringement for many content owners is becoming the status quo.  

Copyright infringement corrodes value and diminishes their ability to make ends meet.  

We want to learn more about this process and some of the burdens content creators are experiencing today. 

In recent years, the Office has undertaken significant modernization efforts. 

This includes IT modernization and AI policy plans.  

The Committee on House Administration has been working with each of our support agencies, including the Copyright Office, to develop AI governance plans.  

In 2016, the Copyright Office established the Copyright Modernization Office to ensure the office is achieving its mission and strategic goals on behalf of copyright owners.  

In their 2023 annual report, the office made steady progress to create a web-based, cloud-hosted, user-friendly platform.  

While this new system has improved efficiency, there is still more to be done to make sure the new system is meeting the needs of its users. 

Over the last year, this Committee has met with a variety of individuals and stakeholders who engage with the Copyright Office and heard their concerns.   

I look forward to a robust discussion today to ensure we are promoting innovation while protecting content owner’s work.