WASHINGTON - The Committee on House Administration held a Full Committee Hearing yesterday titled, "The U.S. Copyright Office: Customers, Communities, and Modernization Efforts."


  • Ms. Shira Perlmutter, Director of the U.S. Copyright Office

In case you missed it, here are the top takeaways:

 1. Is The Copyright Office Ready To Tackle Issues That Arise From AI?

Chairman Bryan Steil (WI-01): As we think about the operations of the Copyright Office, obviously a need for human capital in particular understanding AI in a way that probably wasn't prevalent obviously a decade ago. Do you feel you have the the human capital and the knowledge of employees inside the Copyright Office to be able to navigate through the new questions that are arising as it relates to AI?

Ms. Perlmutter: Yes, I do. The Copyright Office has always had to grapple with how do we apply new emerging technologies to copyright principles and laws. So, we've always had to make sure that we educated ourselves sufficiently to be able to be thoughtful and appropriate in what our recommendations were and this is no different. We actually spent months at the beginning of last year, after we launched the initiative, so throughout the spring and summer, educating ourselves, including having multiple meetings with technology companies as well as doing our own research and reading. I think we have a good grasp of how the technology works - certainly adequate to analyze the copyright related issues.

Click the image or here to view Chairman Steil's Q&A.

2. U.S. Copyright Office's Modernization Pilot Program Schedule

Rep. Mike Carey (OH-15): Can we expect that the registration modernization updates will take effect all at once? You're kind of saying we're gonna do kind of a pilot program or were they going to be done in increments? Am I safe in my safe to assume that we're going to do it increments, not just all at once?

Ms. Perlmutter: Well, it will be all at once, in the sense that once the entire system is finished, and we retire the existing ecosystem, that will happen at once. We'll have an entire system. But, my understanding of how the IT development process works, is that we will be testing out, in limited pilot with the public, different pieces at a time so that we can get input. And then that will feed into the further development.

Rep. Mike Carey (OH-15): So, to jump on that, do do you feel that the Office has the resources it needs to complete its modernization in a timely manner?

Ms. Perlmutter: Yes, we have at the moment, we have the funding and the staff to proceed with that timing that I've been mentioning so that we would get the limited pilot up at the end of this year. And our goal is to be able to retire the ecosystem at the end of calendar 2026. We have now the funding that can take us, we've got the funding in the 2025 budget to do the current plan with the limited pilot and then moving forward we will be making a proposal in 2026 for additional funding to be able to continue and finalize the work.

Click the image or here to view Congressman Carey's Q&A.

3. Music Modernization Act Recommendations Report

Rep. Laurel Lee (FL-15):  I'd like to go into a further discussion about the Music Modernization Act, which was signed into law back in 2018. It established a new entity to administer certain music licenses and distribute the associated royalties, and streaming services transfer those royalties and data to the collective and meet certain criteria in order to obtain a so-called mechanical license. The collective, in turn, finds the proper copyright owner and distributes royalties back. So I'm interested in talking about that mechanical licensing collective. That is something that the Copyright Office oversees, is that right?

Ms. Perlmutter: Yes.

Rep. Laurel Lee (FL-15): And who are the primary stakeholders that are involved in that process?

Ms. Perlmutter: Well, the music publishers, the songwriters, and the digital services.

Rep. Laurel Lee (FL-15): And coming up on the five year re-designation of this collective. What would you say? Are are we facing a key moment here? What work and preparation is being done for looking at that five year re-designation?

Ms. Perlmutter: We have issued a notice seeking public comment on the re-designation, and we're currently in the process of reviewing all of the comments we've received that. The various time periods, I believe are not yet final, so we're still receiving input and as well as analyzing it.
Rep. Laurel Lee (FL-15): Do you have any ideas or suggestions about how that process might be improved?

Ms. Perlmutter: We will have some suggestions once we issue our report.

Rep. Laurel Lee (FL-15): So, the timeline then would be, right now you're getting input from stakeholders, and then after that is complete, you'll be issuing a report and that report is where you'll set forth any recommendations from your office? 

Ms. Perlmutter: Yes, that's correct.

Rep. Laurel Lee (FL-15): Alright.

Click the image or here to view Congresswoman Lee's full Q&A.