In a typically backstabbing lame duck kabuki dance, Google has fired Maria Pallante, the head of the U.S. Copyright Office (see Wall Street Journal “A Copyright Coup in Washington“). This is a real tragedy because Register Pallante was even handed and concerned about treating everyone involved with copyright fairly–consumers as well as creators, not to mention cooperating with Google and Amazon in permitting the filing of millions of NOIs to the great detriment of songwriters.
Pallante was locked out of her computer this morning, according to two sources who spoke with Library employees. Earlier, [the nominal head of the Library of Congress] had called several members of Congress to tell them about her decision. Later, she called the heads of several media business trade organizations to give them the news, according to one who received such a call.
It is hard to believe that the nominal head of the Library of Congress would fire Register Pallante without top cover from the White House–of course, that’s a little odd since the Copyright Office is in the Library of Congress.
These lines get a bit blurry for Google who doesn’t really care much about who needs to be bought off. The White House may very well have been instructed to fire Pallante by Google lobbyist Johanna Shelton or Google’s White House fixer Ginny Hunt. Time will tell.
And then there’s the close relationship between Public Knowledge and Google–Google was ordered to disclose its funding of Public Knowledge by a federal judge:
Public Knowledge recently dropped a hit piece on Pallante, claiming that the Copyright Office was captured by creators. Right, that’s why the Copyright Office allowed the mass filing of millions of NOIs to the great detriment of songwriters and to the great benefit of Google and Amazon.
In a bizarre example of Washington corruption, songwriters recently withstood an assault by the Google Department of Justice Antitrust Division on 100% licensing that supposedly emanated from Renata B. Hesse, who formerly represented Google in antitrust cases. Of course, the current CEO of Public Knowledge was formerly the Chief Counsel of the Antitrust Division (read his Revolving Door profile on Open Secrets here).
Make no mistake, this is Google flexing its considerable pay-to-play muscle. The timing is predictable–Google fires Pallante days before a general election, in the waning days of the Obama Administration. They don’t give a good goddamn about whether it’s the Library of Congress or the Vulcan Science Academy. They control the players and they’ll do what they want especially when they think no one is looking.