The U.S. Legislative Process

U.S. Copyright Laws in Congress

U.S. copyright law is often the subject of bills, discussions on the Hill, and of course new legislation. The process of amending the U.S. Copyright Act as a whole or amending specific provisions in the Act is complex in itself. The Library of Congress has a series of short text and videos that explain the process. The series include the following sections: Overview of the Legislative Process; Introduction and Referral of Bills; Committee Consideration; Calendars and Scheduling; House Floor; Senate Floor; Executive Business in the Senate; Bicameral Resolution; and Presidential Actions.

Balance in Copyright Laws

The overview text states: “Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution grants all legislative powers to a bicameral Congress: a House of Representatives and a Senate that are the result of a “Great Compromise” seeking to balance the effects of popular majorities with the interests of the states.” In a speech given by Maria Pallante, Register of Copyrights of the U.S. and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office in March 2013, she states that “American experts are fond of pointing out that we have the most balanced copyright law in the world…” Copyright legislation is about balancing the interests of those who create and use content. And balancing those interests in the digital world makes us continuously review and find the proper balance.

The Next Great Copyright Act

Pallante has asked Congress to open the discussions on a comprehensive review and revision of the U.S. copyright law. Understanding the legislative process will be helpful in following any such review, and any and all actions on the Hill to amend portions or the entire Copyright Act.

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