Register of Copyrights

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Register of Copyrights
Shira Perlmutter, appointee to be 14th Register of Copyrights
United States Copyright Office
Constituting instrument17 U.S.C. § 701
Inaugural holderThorvald 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 September 2020, the position is held by Maria Strong, named Acting Register effective January 6, 2020 following the resignation of Karyn Temple.[1] On September 20, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced that Shira Perlmutter, Chief Policy Officer and Director for International Affairs at the US Patent and Trademark Office, was appointed to become the 14th Register of Copyrights.[2] Perlmutter is scheduled to take office in late October 2020.[2]

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.[3][4][5]

List of Registers of Copyrights

No. Image Name Start of term End of term Length of term Notes
1 Thorvald Solberg-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Thorvald Solberg July 22, 1897 April 21, 1930 11,961 days
  • Longest serving Register (32 years, 9 months)
2 William Lincoln Brown-official-USCO-headshot.jpg William Lincoln Brown June 4, 1934 July 1, 1936 759 days
3 Clement Lincoln Bouvé-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Clement Lincoln Bouvé August 1, 1936 December 31, 1943 2,699 days
acting Richard Crosby De Wolf-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Richard Crosby De Wolf January 1, 1944 February 1, 1945 398 days
4 Sam Bass Warner-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Sam Bass Warner February 1, 1945 May 28, 1951 2,308 days
acting Arthur Fisher-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Arthur Fisher May 28, 1951 September 12, 1951 108 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[6] November 12, 1960[7] 3,350 days
6 Abraham Kaminstein-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Abraham L. Kaminstein December 24, 1960 August 31, 1971 3,903 days
7 George Cary-official-USCO-headshot.jpg George D. Cary September 1, 1971[7] March 9, 1973[8] 556 days
acting Abe Goldman-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Abe Goldman March 10, 1973 November 19, 1973 255 days
8 Barbara Ringer-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Barbara Ringer November 19, 1973 May 30, 1980 2,385 days
  • First female Register. Ringer brought a sex discrimination suit that resulted in her being named to the position.[9]
9 David Ladd-official-USCO-headshot.jpg David Ladd June 2, 1980 January 2, 1985 1,676 days
acting Donald Curran-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Donald Curran January 3, 1985 September 10, 1985 251 days
10 Ralph Oman-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Ralph Oman September 23, 1985 January 8, 1994 3,031 days
acting Barbara Ringer-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Barbara Ringer November 27, 1993 August 6, 1994 253 days
  • Only former Register to return to service as acting Register
11 Marybeth Peters-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Marybeth Peters August 7, 1994 December 31, 2010 5,991 days
acting Maria Pallante-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Maria Pallante January 1, 2011 May 31, 2011 151 days
12 Maria Pallante-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Maria Pallante June 1, 2011 October 21, 2016 1,970 days
acting Karyn Temple-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Karyn Temple October 21, 2016 March 26, 2019 887 days
  • Longest serving acting Register (2 years, 5 months, 6 days)
13 Karyn Temple-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Karyn Temple March 27, 2019 January 3, 2020 283 days
  • Shortest-serving Register (9 months, 8 days)
acting Maria Strong-official-USCO-headshot.jpg Maria Strong January 6, 2020 294 days (to date)
  • Incumbent
14 (appointed) Shira-Perlmutter-LOC-photo.png Shira Perlmutter October 2020
  • Appointed September 21, 2020; expected to take office October 2020


  1. ^ "Maria Strong Is Named Acting Register of Copyrights". Copyright Office NewsNet (792). U.S. Copyright Office. December 18, 2019. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Shira Perlmutter Is Named Register of Copyrights". Copyright Office NewsNet (851). U.S. Copyright Office. September 21, 2020. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  3. ^ "Big content cheers as Congress votes on changes to US Copyright Office". Ars Technica. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  4. ^ "House Passes Copyright Office Reform Bill". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  5. ^ "Congress is trying to give even more power to Hollywood". The Verge. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  6. ^ Patry, William F. (1994). Copyright Law and Practice. Greenwood Press. p. 1212. ISBN 978-0-87179-855-8.
  7. ^ a b Patry, William F. (1994). Copyright Law and Practice. Greenwood Press. p. 1215. ISBN 978-0-87179-855-8.
  8. ^ "George D. Cary". U.S. Copyright Office. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  9. ^ Hall, Alison (November 19, 2019). "Barbara Ringer: Beyond the ©". Copyright Creativity at Work. Library of Congress. Retrieved January 9, 2020.


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