Federal lawmakers are calling for an independent Copyright Office that would be led by a Register nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday released the first in what is expected to be a series of reforms. They suggest keeping a newly independent office in the Legislative branch, and funding technology upgrades including a searchable, digital database of historical and current copyright ownership.
Coming on the heels of the resignation of Copyright Register Maria Pallante, and previous suggestions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, the proposals set up a show-down between Congress and new librarian Carla D. Hayden over the future of the agency.
The proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner has drawn censure from both sides of the political aisle, as well as a Senate hearing that looked into the potential for the combined company to become a monopoly.
But if we are going to examine media monopolies, we should look first at Silicon Valley, not the fading phone business.
Mark Cuban, the internet entrepreneur, said at the meeting of the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee last week that the truly dominant companies in media distribution these days were Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon.
“Facebook is without question in a dominant position, if not the dominant position, for content delivery,” he said.
Look at the numbers. Alphabet (the parent company of Google) and Facebook are among the 10 largest companies in the world. Alphabet alone has a market capitalization of around $550 billion. AT&T and Time Warner combined would be about $300 billion.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and committee member John Conyers (D-Mich.) have released a proposal that would give the U.S. Copyright Office more autonomy, although it would stay in the Legislative Branch of government. Most important, it would subject the Register of Copyrights, the highest copyright position in the U.S. government, to the same Congressional nomination process as other government officials. Currently, the Copyright Office is part of the Library of Congress, and the Register is selected by the Librarian of Congress, with no review from lawmakers.
The process for selecting the Register became a matter of considerable concern across the media and entertainment business in October, when the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, unceremoniously sidelined Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante, who subsequently resigned. Among the issues they disagreed about, according to several sources, was how much independence the Copyright Office should have. Hayden is perceived as being skeptical of copyright, and entertainment executives were concerned that she would have the sole authority to appoint a new Register.
Why is the Librarian of Congress letting the “mass NOI” scam continue? Is it because she has deep connections to at least one of the companies that financially benefits from the scam? The apparent constructive termination of Maria Pallante the Register of Copyrights by the brand new Librarian of Congress has gathered a fair amount […]
Yesterday the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee issued the first set of policy proposals following their long-running copyright review process. These proposals were principally aimed at ensuring that the IT demands of the Copyright Office were properly met so that it could perform its assigned functions, and to provide adequate authority for it to adapt its policies and practices to the evolving needs of the digital age.
In response to these modest proposals, Public Knowledge issued a telling statement, calling for enhanced scrutiny of these proposals related to an agency “with a documented history of regulatory capture.”
The entirety of this “documented history,” however, is a paper published by Public Knowledge itself alleging regulatory capture—as evidenced by the fact that 13 people had either gone from the Copyright Office to copyright industries or vice versa over the past 20+ years. The original document was brilliantly skewered by David Newhoff in a post on the indispensable blog, Illusion of More:
“To support its premise, Public Knowledge, with McCarthy-like righteousness, presents a list—a table of thirteen former or current employees of the Copyright Office who either have worked for private-sector, rights-holding organizations prior to working at the Office or who are now working for these private entities after their terms at the Office. That thirteen copyright attorneys over a 22-year period might be employed in some capacity for copyright owners is a rather unremarkable observation, but PK seems to think it’s a smoking gun…. Or, as one of the named thirteen, Steven Tepp, observes in his response, PK also didn’t bother to list the many other Copyright Office employees who, “went to Internet and techcompanies, the Smithsonian, the FCC, and other places that no one would mistake for copyright industries.” One might almost get the idea that experienced copyright attorneys pursue various career paths or something.”
Read the post on Truth on the Market
[Editor Charlie sez: No more White House Spotify playlists?]
Team Trump has announced the composition of the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum – and there’s no place for internet oligarchs like Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos or the world’s fifth-richest man, Mark Zuckerberg.
Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch has a seat, as does Ginni Rometty, head of everything at IBM. The forum is headed by Stephen A Schwarzman, co-founder of private equity giant Blackstone.
“The panel will be a strong voice on Team Trump for corporate America and the interests of the 1 per cent,” writes Larry Kumer of the Fabius Maximus blog, noting that for a populist President-elect, there’s no representation for organised labour.
But it’s not merely corporate – that much can be expected from a CEO President-elect. DC sources tell us that Trump’s antipathy towards Big Internet is based on jobs. A second Trump term depends on jobs growth; while internet companies such as Amazon, Google and Uber destroy jobs, manufacturing industries create them.
It’s a sign of which corporations Team Trump thinks can generate jobs. Outgoing President Obama couldn’t get enough of Big Internet, and today many agencies reflect Google’s agenda. The Google Transparency project has documented the busy revolving door between DC and Mountain View, and the amount of Google-friendly policy activity has become frantic in recent months. Examples include ripping up the rules for TV licensing – which proved too much even for the Democrat FCC Commissioner with the swing vote to approve – and locking the Register of Copyright out of her office.
Congress will be in recess from December 16 to January 3 and the controversial Librarian of Congress gets to appoint a new head of the Copyright Office to replace Maria Pallante who was fired by the Librarian on October 21 in what looks to many like an actionable constructive termination. We think that the Librarian will avoid consulting with Congress about who she will appoint to run the Copyright Office because she’s gone rogue.
What better time to get her way (at least until Congress undoes her appointment) than to appoint the new Register during the upcoming Congressional holiday recess? So we wanted to let you in on the office pool for which day she’ll make the appointment!