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Report released about systemic bias at the U.S. Copyright Office

The U.S. Copyright Office is meant to serve as a location of public record for registrations and Copyrighted material. It is meant to be unbiased in its operations as a branch of the Library of Congress.

Is the Copyright Office operating in the manner for which it was intended? According to the recently-released report from Public Knowledge, they are not, instead showing unfair favoritism to for-profit entertainment industries.

The report, "Captured: Systemic Bias at the U.S. Copyright Office," examines several factors that allegedly demonstrate a not-so-hidden agenda on the part of this federal entity. Specifically, the report examines how the Copyright Office:

  • Furthers the monopoly rights of major copyright holders by regularly contorting copyright laws
  • Advocates to expand copyright in a way that provides fewer limitations, exceptions and consumer protections
  • Involves itself in policy debates that extend far beyond its expertise and mission
  • Prioritizes its own views over stakeholders and decides based on predetermined outcomes
  • Often has decisions overturned or ignored by Congress, the court system and other agencies

The report also indicates a "revolving door" of employment between the Copyright office and industries that hold a monopoly. This includes positions in policy, legal and other areas of leadership.

"To even begin to address the Copyright Office's systemic problems, we must, as a nation, have a serious discussion about the Office's relationship to industry, its accountability, and its intended role within the government," Meredith Rose, Policy Advocate at Public Knowledge said in a September 8 press release.

At the time of this blog, the U.S. Copyright Office had yet to comment on Public Knowledge's report.

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