Unbeknownst to many, there has been something of a war going on to determine the future of copyright law in the U.S. On one side, there are corporate, largely Silicon Valley-based interests, most notably Google, who wish to loosen copyright laws so that they can have access to content that is either unavailable or requires costly fees. On the other side are the creators, the companies that support them – the content industry – and their advocates who want to maintain, or even strengthen copyright laws giving creators control over their works and payment for their use. Last week, in what has been characterized as a blow to creator advocates, the new Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, announced that Register of Copyrights and Director of the United States Copyright Office, Maria Pallante, had been removed from her position. Pallante has been a fierce supporter of creator’s rights. While many believe her removal was orchestrated by Google, others see Pallante’s removal as nothing more than a turf war between a new boss and her subordinate, each with different ideas about the future for the Copyright Office.
The idea that powerful companies, such as Google, could have such influence over the future of copyright is disturbing, however, much of the evidence is circumstantial. Let’s take a look at the situation from both sides so that you can judge for yourselves.