Most people are unaware but the Copyright Office is located in the Library of Congress and the Register of Copyright is appointed by Librarian of Congress, who approves all regulations issued by the Copyright Office and oversees the budget. This arrangement stems from the deposit arrangement that publishers have with the Copyright Office and allows the Library easy access to the books. This arrangement worked during the 19th Century but is out of step with the scope of the Copyright Office and the complexity of copyright law.
To remedy the situation, the House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R.1695 in April which will make the Register of Copyrights a Presidential appointee, confirmed by the Senate, and creating a panel of Congressional leaders who would recommend at least three qualified candidates for the President to choose from. The Senate issued a mirror bill days later, which is also expected to pass.
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Elsevier, a large scientific American publisher, won a $15 million default judgement for copyright infringement against Sci-Hub and the Library of Genesis, two pirate websites that offer free downloads of tens of millions of scientific papers and books.
Alexandra Elbakyan, founder of Sci-Hub, did not appear at the trial which was in New York City. However, she sent a letter to the court stating her reasons for launching the website in 2011. While studying at a University in Kazakhstan she needed access to hundreds of scientific papers and could not afford to pay for them.
Sci-Hub connects to a database of stolen papers. If a user requests a paper in that database, Sci-Hub serves it up. If the paper is not there, Sci-Hub uses library passwords it has collected to find the paper, provides it to the searcher, and then adds it to the database.
To date, Elbakyan has made an estimated 50 million scholarly articles available on Sci-Hub. Many academics, university librarians and longtime advocates for open scholarly research are closely following her efforts. Both Sci-Hub and Library of Genesis are based in Russia.