Register of Copyrights

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Register of Copyrights
Shira Perlmutter
United States Copyright Office
Appointer Librarian of Congress
Constituting instrument 17 U.S.C.   § 701
Inaugural holder Thorvald Solberg
Salarygoverned by 5 U.S.C.   § 5314

The Register of Copyrights is the director of the United States Copyright Office within the Library of Congress, as provided by 17 U.S.C.   § 701. The Office has been headed by a Register since 1897. The Register is appointed by, and responsible to, the Librarian of Congress.


Although the title suggests a clerical role, Registers of Copyrights have been responsible for creating the procedures and practices of the Copyright Office and establishing standards for registration of copyright. They have increasingly been responsible for setting or influencing United States copyright policy. Today the Register is responsible for administering rulemaking procedures and producing authoritative interpretations of some aspects of U.S. copyright law, as well as advising the Librarian of Congress on the triennial proceeding on exceptions to the anticircumvention rules of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The Register also routinely testifies before Congress on copyright policy matters.

As of October 2020, the position is held by Shira Perlmutter, who took office October 26, 2020. [1]

On April 26, 2017, the House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that, if approved by the Senate, will make Register of Copyrights a position that is filled by presidential appointment with Senate confirmation, rather than appointed by the Librarian of Congress—a policy that has been in place since the establishment of the Copyright Office, and impose a maximum term of 10 years. The bill has been supported by the entertainment industry and other groups (including the MPAA and RIAA), as the new selection procedure would give them the opportunity to lobby for a Register of Copyrights that aligns with their interests in stronger copyright protection. These effects have been the basis of opposition towards the bill by politicians, and groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge, which feel that the bill would give corporate stakeholders a higher level of influence over U.S. copyright policies, rather than balancing the laws to meet the needs of the public. [2] [3] [4]

List of Registers of Copyrights

No.ImageNameStart of termEnd of termLength of termNotes
1 Thorvald Solberg-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Thorvald Solberg July 22, 1897April 21, 193011,961 days
  • Longest serving Register (32 years, 9 months)
2 William Lincoln Brown-official-USCO-headshot.jpg William Lincoln Brown June 4, 1934July 1, 1936759 days
3 Clement Lincoln Bouve-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Clement Lincoln Bouvé August 1, 1936December 31, 19432,699 days
acting Richard Crosby De Wolf-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Richard Crosby De Wolf January 1, 1944February 1, 1945398 days
4 Sam Bass Warner-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Sam Bass Warner February 1, 1945May 28, 19512,308 days
acting Arthur Fisher-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Arthur Fisher May 28, 1951September 12, 1951108 days
  • First acting Register to go on to assume the official role
  • Shortest term as acting Register (3 months, 9 days)
5 Arthur Fisher-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Arthur Fisher September 12, 1951 [5] November 12, 1960 [6] 3,350 days
6 Abraham Kaminstein-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Abraham L. Kaminstein December 24, 1960August 31, 19713,903 days
7 George Cary-official-USCO-headshot.jpg George D. Cary September 1, 1971 [6] March 9, 1973 [7] 556 days
acting Abe Goldman-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Abe Goldman March 10, 1973November 19, 1973255 days
8 Barbara Ringer-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Barbara Ringer November 19, 1973May 30, 19802,385 days
  • First female Register. Ringer brought a sex discrimination suit that resulted in her being named to the position. [8]
9 David Ladd-official-USCO-headshot.jpg David Ladd June 2, 1980January 2, 19851,676 days
acting Donald Curran-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Donald Curran January 3, 1985September 10, 1985251 days
10 Ralph Oman-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Ralph Oman September 23, 1985January 8, 19943,031 days
acting Barbara Ringer-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Barbara Ringer November 27, 1993August 6, 1994253 days
  • Only former Register to return to service as acting Register
11 Marybeth Peters-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Marybeth Peters August 7, 1994December 31, 20105,991 days
acting Maria Pallante-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Maria Pallante January 1, 2011May 31, 2011151 days
12 Maria Pallante-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Maria Pallante June 1, 2011October 21, 20161,970 days
acting Karyn Temple-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Karyn Temple October 21, 2016March 26, 2019887 days
  • Longest serving acting Register (2 years, 5 months, 6 days)
13 Karyn Temple-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Karyn Temple March 27, 2019January 3, 2020283 days
  • Shortest-serving Register (9 months, 8 days)
acting Maria Strong-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Maria Strong January 6, 2020295 days
14 Shira-Perlmutter-LOC-photo.png Shira Perlmutter October 26, 202058 days (to date)
  • Incumbent

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  1. "U.S. Copyright Office Welcomes New Register". Copyright Office NewsNet (857). U.S. Copyright Office. October 26, 2020. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  2. "Big content cheers as Congress votes on changes to US Copyright Office". Ars Technica. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  3. "House Passes Copyright Office Reform Bill". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  4. "Congress is trying to give even more power to Hollywood". The Verge. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  5. Patry, William F. (1994). Copyright Law and Practice. Greenwood Press. p. 1212. ISBN   978-0-87179-855-8.
  6. 1 2 Patry, William F. (1994). Copyright Law and Practice. Greenwood Press. p. 1215. ISBN   978-0-87179-855-8.
  7. "George D. Cary". U.S. Copyright Office. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  8. Hall, Alison (November 19, 2019). "Barbara Ringer: Beyond the ©". Copyright Creativity at Work. Library of Congress. Retrieved January 9, 2020.