Congress Issues a Stern Warning to the US Copyright Office…

Congress Issues Warning to US Copyrights Office and Carla Hayden Over Maria Pallante

Image by Library of Congress, a U.S. Government agency

The US Copyright Office and Carla Hayden still face hot water over Maria Pallante.

The US Copyright Office has faced a difficult time over the controversial “demotion” (read: firing) of Maria Pallante. Artists knew Maria Pallante as a “defender of copyright” who stood up to tech giants.  Some people believe Google orchestrated the firing. Furthermore, The Wall Street Journal called the firing a “Google Washington Copyright Coup.”

There’s more: Don Henley, founder of The Eagles, said Pallante defended the creative community, and was subsequently fired. Even two former US Copyright Office heads called for an investigation.  Now, Dr. Carla Hayden, the current Librarian of Congress, will face a tougher time.

The House Judiciary Committee issued a carefully-worded policy paper.  Dubbed “Reform of the U.S. Copyright Office,” the document calls for an independent Copyright Office.  However, Registers will be subject to presidential nomination.  This move will avoid any more similar moves by Hayden’s part.

“Currently, the Register is not subject to the same nomination and consent process as other senior government officials. To ensure that the American people have an opportunity to provide input into the selection of future Registers of Copyright through their elected officials, the next Register and all that follow should be subject to a nomination and consent process with a 10-year term limit, subject to potential re-nomination. The Copyright Office should also add several positions to advise the Register including a Chief Economist, Chief Technologist, and a Deputy Register.”

Readers will remember Dr. Carla Hayden demoted Pallante to a consulting position in October.  Furthermore, Hayden didn’t notify Pallante.  Rather, Pallante showed up to work and abruptly found out about her demotion.  She quit three days later, however.

Hayden only took office in September.

The Reforms are meant to modernize the agency, and not directly criticize Dr. Hayden.  Furthermore, the House Judiciary Committee wants to keep up with technological advances and defend artists’ rights.

Speaking about the proposals, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and John Conyers (D-Mich) said in a statement,

These policy proposals are not meant to be the final word on reform in these individual issue areas, but rather a starting point for further discussion by all stakeholders, with the goal of producing legislative text within each issue area.

Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) added,

Based on our extensive consultation with a broad range of stakeholders, we believe the Copyright Office should have more independence, accountability, and authority to make decisions in areas such as IT, budget, and staffing.”

Joanna McIntosh, MPAA Executive Vice President, said modernization is a top priority for the US Copyright Office.

A vibrant, modern copyright system depends on a vibrant, modern Copyright Office. The current structure dates back to the 19th century and, as many members of Congress as well as past Registers have stated, in the 21st century the Copyright Office needs policy and operational autonomy to meet its statutory obligations to Congress and the public.”

While artists urge Hayden to wait, others believe she must appoint a new Register now. However, James J. Neal, president-elect of the American Library Association and an expert on copyright, said,

Let’s get on with it, allow Carla Hayden to recruit a new register and begin the process of modernization.  We’ll make the case to move forward now, with the leadership of Carla Hayden.

The Washington Post posits that the proposals “set up a show-down between Congress and new librarian Carla D. Hayden over the future of the agency.” Chris Castle over at Music Tech Solution believes Congress is just waking up to the situation. Needless to say, he had less-than-kind words for Carla Hayden.

This memo served as a warning to the Librarian that Dr. Hayden should not get any further delusions of grandeur that manifested in appointing a new Register during the recess.”

9 Responses

  1. Inside 495

    DMN should just stop writing about Washington D.C. happenings. Seriously.

    You guys get them COMPLETELY WRONG – pretty much ALL of the time.

    The US Copyright Office and Carla Hayden haven’t “faced a difficult time over the controversial “demotion” (read: firing) of Maria Pallante.” Not by anyone who matters – at ALL.

    Your “report” on the “carefully-worded policy paper” is just soooo misinformed, it’s laughable. Literally LOL laughable.

    First of all, the review of the Copyright Office and the process for appointing the Register ofCopyrights has been under review for over a year, now. Goodlatte himself has publicly announced his intentions to look at modifying the CO and the appointment of the Register.

    Second of all, the “memo,” is a long-discussed (as in, waaaaaay before Hayden was even nominated, much less prompted by her demotion of Maria Pallante) proposal that is being circulated to stakeholders, to get feedback on what might be consensus to be incorporated into a Bill to Modernize the Copyright Office.

    Finally, FAAAAAR from a “move will avoid any more similar moves like Hayden’s,” the proposal to have the Register nominated by the Executive and subject to confirmation is intended to break the so-called “captive” Copyright Office that seems to be a guaranteed next-stop for ex-NMPA, and RIAA employees.

    I mean, you don’t even have to be a Washington insider to figure THIS one out, guys. Let’s do the very simple math:

    1) Google has a much-talked-about, employee-swapping relationship with the White House (which doesn’t look like it will cease under the upcoming Trump administration, either);

    2) Congress notes that the Copyright Office is one of the ONLY agencies where the White House doesn’t influence the selection and appointment process; and

    3) Congress says it WANTS to GIVE the White House (and “the American people”) direct influence over the selection of the Register of Copyrights.

    Add that up, and you guys – the the “genius” *massive sarcastic cough* that is Chris Castle – somehow conclude that this means Congress is “warning” Carla Hayden and trying to help creators?!?!?!?!?!?!

    Seriously.

    Just.

    Stop.

    Writing.

    About.

    Washington/politics.

    (and really, stop listening to Chris Castle and David Lowery – they are fringe, nutcases who truly don’t understand at least 75% of what they blog about).

    • Ishmael

      Is that the official Sirius position or just your personal viewpoint?

    • Nigel

      Leave it to the experts because that has worked out so well? This is planet earth, you missed your stop.

  2. David Lowery

    I’d talk to some judiciary committee staffers. Unless multiple people arelying key house members are unhappy with Hayden and Pallante firing. Note i’m going on record saying this. Not an anonymous comment.

    • David Lowery

      Btw Inside 495 that’s a public comment calling me a “nutcase” and I’ll be contacting Resnikoff your for IP information. Enjoy your holidays.

  3. Inside 495

    I talk to Judiciary staffers all the time. “Key house members” are unhappy with Hayden and the Pallante firing? Not sure what that means. It’s Washington. If you knew ANYTHING about it, you’d know that you will ALWAYS be able to find some folks on either side of pretty much ANY issue.

    Bottom line: Copyright Office review – including Presidential nomination of Register of Copyrights – has been in the works for a VERY long time. Again, since WAAAAAAAAAYYY before Carla Hayden was even confirmed. So, the premise of the article – that this long-coming outline of possible proposals is some type of “stern warning” resulting from Pallante’s shift – is ENTIRELY incorrect.

    And if you don’t know that Presidential appointment of the Register is something that has been SOUGHT by the tech companies, then, those Judiciary staffers and House members you’ve been talking to are not at all “key” (and/or they HAVE been lying to you).

    FWIW, I’m neither Mike Masnick nor a Sirius employee. Just someone who actually understands this stuff.