Investing in Technology at U.S. Copyright Office is Money Well Spent

Investing in Technology at U.S. Copyright Office is Money Well Spent

Washington is good at kicking the can down the road. And, let’s face it. Expectations of Congress are never lower than in a presidential election year. Still, every once in a while opportunities for progress arise in ways that can make a big difference for music creators, and from places that don’t always make the headlines.

With lawmakers at a crossroads on legislation that would help the U.S. Copyright Office in its effort to modernize its operations, we are urging Congress to not delay and do what is best for creators and rights owners now.

Maria A. Pallante, Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office, has explained in great detail the need to upgrade the Office’s IT infrastructure. Pallante’s five-year IT plan represents a forward-thinking, common sense vision for the future.

Earlier this week, SoundExchange sent letters to the leadership of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch to show our support for Pallante’s five-year plan and to stress that IT modernization at the U.S. Copyright Office is important to music creators.  Modernizing the Copyright Office is critical to helping America’s creative community realize its full economic potential.

While not the sexiest or most intriguing issue in Washington today, investing in the Copyright Office’s aging IT infrastructure is something that could make a real difference for SoundExchange’s members and registrants – and for all of the creative community. And it is a change that is long overdue.

In no uncertain terms, the Copyright Office must modernize its IT systems to meet the current and future needs of the digital economy. They must develop a platform that not only addresses the problems of the past, but lays the groundwork for a responsive and proactive system that can address all future needs – some perhaps as yet unknown. And that’s what Pallante envisions – a modern platform that is lean and nimble, including improvements in the recordation process, which is still paper-based. Trading the existing technology for an infrastructure that takes advantage of flexible and scalable cloud computing technology will allow the Copyright Office not only to improve its services, but also to become more cost effective for its customer base.

The obstacles that the Copyright Office currently faces are due to an old IT platform that is more suited for the 1970s than our rapidly-moving digital economy. Our letter to the House Appropriations Committee asking them to carefully consider (and fund) Pallante’s five-year IT modernization plan makes it clear that achieving modernization is crucial to SoundExchange’s members and registrants. The reality of the situation is that if the Copyright Office faces technical hurdles, then all creators and rights owners face will feel the repercussions of those limitations.

That is the reason why we have invested in our own IT platform at SoundExchange. We have built an IT system that allows us to be more efficient, manage the incredible amount of data about sound recordings that we work with every day, and provide better customer service that makes that data work for our members. It wasn’t easy, but it was the right thing to do for creators and rights owners.

Kicking the can down the road was not an option for us. We hope lawmakers also understand that when it comes to investing in the Copyright Office’s IT infrastructure, kicking the can down the road is not an option for them either.