Thursday, May 18, 2017

House Votes to Limit Powers of First Black Librarian of Congress

House Votes to Limit Powers of First Black Librarian of Congress
San Diego Voice and Viewpoint: 5.17.2017 by Lauren Victoria Burke

In a vote of 378 to 48, the House passed legislation to take power away from the current Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden.

The legislation, H.R. 1695, was authored by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (D-Va.) and ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.), would limit the powers of the librarian. It is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Trump.

The bill makes the head of the Copyright Office, the Register of Copyrights, a presidential appointment that would have to be confirmed by the Senate, rather than an appointment by the Librarian of Congress, as it has been since 1870. The bill also limits the position of Librarian of Congress to a ten-year term.

The previous Librarian of Congress, James Billington, served in the position for 28 years.

President Barack Obama appointed Hayden the 14th Librarian of Congress on February 24, 2016. =She is the first African American to hold the position, as well as the first woman to be the Librarian of Congress, in the agency’s history. On March 23, legislation was introduced to block Hayden from appointing the next Register of Copyrights. That legislation passed the House on April 26.

Supporters of the bill argued that the legislation would help to modernize the Copyright Office and make it more accountable to Congress. Attempts to contact the office of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) for details on why he authored H.R. 1695, were not answered.

“This bill serves no purpose other than to take power away from the Librarian of Congress and give it to powerful lobbyists, who will have a major say in who runs the Copyright Office,” wrote Michael Masnick on on April 26. “It’s a bad bill, and it’s a gift to Hollywood.”  READ MORE @

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