Google Fires Head of U.S. Copyright Office

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.

According to Billboard:

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.

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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.

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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:

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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).

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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.

We’re looking.

 

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10 thoughts on “Google Fires Head of U.S. Copyright Office

  1. It sounds familiar…if you’re sitting pretty you can pretend you’re concerned about something even though the record shows there is no record of actions demonstrating your concern..and all that matters is “winning”, i.e. for you to win, someone else has to lose and that’s ok. How Google and the likes manage to continue ignoring what loss they bring to the artistic community, and the growing voice of discontent of the very people whose art they rely on, is flabbergasting…but then so is reasoning with a drunk or a narcissist . There is no there there, no center of concern for others. Win win means nothing to Google pundits, but they’ve got the money to hire the attorneys who want their graces so they can pretend they care. It’s too bad there are still plenty of people who still think amassing $$$s is the only measure of success, or enough in itself, but Karma is a MoFo and shows up in many ways, even for the delusional Google squadron whose greed has allowed them to convince themselves that they are working for fairness for all.

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  2. This “article” is a half true hit piece. If true, it only tells part of the story. The content community has bought Washington for years and scores of content lobbyists moved from Congressional staff and sdministration positions to the MPA, NMPA, RIAA and other groups. Ever hear of Sen. Dodd? Look up Mitch Glazier and how he wrote copyright legislation one week, and days later doubled his salary at the RIAA. And didn’t Nmpa head David Israelite come from the Justice Department? Speak of the pot calling the kettle black.

    And the political funding from content creators is huge..some of it isn’t even measured. What is the value of getting Barbara Streisand or other stars to sing at our even appear at a fundraiser? Ever wonder why ASCAP and BMI never bring or threaten lawsuits when members of congress use their music without authorization?

    And the content world wants its bought politicians to stay bought. After the arrogance and sudden failure of SOPA PIPA, one visible content lobbyist actually whined to the press about congressmen accepting political contributions and then backing off SOPA PIPA legislation.

    And the ethics of these content industry representatives is questionable. Google did everything the MPA requested but then the MPA held back the expected press release welcoming Google’s action. Why? The MPA had contributed mightily to and then drafted a spurious complaint for the Mississippi attorney general writes a spurious complaint to file against Google which he did..hours after Google complied with the MPA request. Nice. But stand up for the free speech? Not when Sony Pictures was hacked by the Koreans. MPA radio silence.

    Even if everything about Google alleged in this article is true, my view is that at worst Google is simply trying to mimic the content lobbyists techniques ( other than than buying politicians which they don’t ). Think about it, the multiple extensions of copyright term, the huge copyright infringement penalties, and the expansion of copyright did not happen without a massive Washington content political effort.

    I will disclose that for many years, I have engaged against efforts of the content community to choke fair use, ban products we love (from the vcr to the Internet) – and thankfully we won many battles as new forms of technology created huge new opportunities for our members…and for content creators.

    And yes Google is one of 2200 corporate members of the Consumer Technology Association, the group I head. Google provides a fraction of one percent of our revenue.

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    1. You may be under the impression the RIAA and Hollywood represent most creators. So many artists and creators are on their own and have no large organizations with money to protect us. We always are the ones hurt in these fights.

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