In response to a letter by Carl Malamud and other notables questioning the $86,625 price tag on the copyright catalog, the U.S. Copyright Office has replied, and that reply has been posted on the Library of Congress Blog.
Here's an excerpt:
The U.S. Copyright Office neither sets the price nor receives any direct revenue from the sale of the Copyright Cataloging database. Rather, access to these records is a service offered through the Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS) of the Library of Congress, which is mandated by Congress to provide this and other services to the public at a charge of production and distribution cost plus 10%. . . .
Fortunately, recent cost savings realized within CDS are anticipated to result in a drop in the price of many services available from CDS, including the Copyright Cataloging database subscription service. Any new pricing structure will appear first at on the CDS Web site www.loc.gov/cds/ in late October or early November 2007, then in the 2008 CDS Catalog of Products in January 2008.
Source: Raymond, Matt. "The Price of the Copyright Catalog." Library of Congress Blog, 26 September 2007.