Copyright czar resigns

U.S. Register of Copyrights Ralph Oman announced Monday he will resign his post effective Jan. 8.

Oman made his announcement at the American Bar Assn. convention in New York, where he said he will end a 27-year government career and begin a private law practice.

The U.S. Register of Copyrights is an important position for the film and recording industries, since the Register is regarded as the foremost expert on U.S. copyright matters. Oman has been a frequent witness in congressional copyright hearings, and has been a sympathetic ally to authors, artists, composers and filmmakers.

Oman became U.S. Register of Copyrights in 1985 after serving a stint as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee under then-chairman Charles Mathias (R-Md.).

Oman, a Republican, may have been motivated to announce his resignation because of legislation pending in Congress that would allow the President to appoint the Register of Copyrights.

Oman said in a letter to his staff Monday that he will “hand off to my successor a sunny copyright landscape — with our copyright industries booming, the copyright system working well, and the copyright office doing a terrific job.”

Oman will hold the title of Register of Copyrights until his departure. However, he will focus exclusively on international copyright matters during his remaining months. Library of Congress official Mary Levering will be in charge of day-to-day operation of the office until Librarian of Congress James Billington names a replacement for Oman.

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