November 27, 2015

Appeals Court: Librarian of Congress Must Be Able To Fire Copyright Judges

The Copyright Royalty Board, as currently constituted, violates the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on Friday according to Reuters. The Board sets the rates that broadcasters must pay for copyright licenses.

The three-judge panel is appointed by the Librarian of Congress, and the court held that giving the Librarian of Congress more ability to fire the judges would resolve the constitutional dilemma.

“With such removal power in the Librarian’s hands, we are confident that the Judges are ‘inferior’ rather than ‘principal’ officers,” Judge Stephen Williams wrote. (Principal officers must be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.) Right now the Librarian of Congress can only remove the board members for misconduct or neglecting their duties.

Rich Strasser, senior attorney of the Copyright Royalty Board, told LJ, “All I am authorized to say is that we have no comment.”

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz ( is Executive Editor of Library Journal.

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