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.
Dr. Carla Hayden, the newly installed Librarian of Congress, removed Maria Pallante from the position of Register of Copyrights on Friday, Oct. 21. The move was sudden, resulting in the extensive speculation over the decision that we have seen since. Lost amid this speculation is the fact that Pallante served the nation well for nearly six years as an outstanding Register of Copyrights.
Over the course of my 30 years in Congress — and especially during my tenures as chairman and ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet — I had the opportunity to work with several Registers, all of whom I relied upon for independent, expert counsel. As Register, Pallante continued that fine tradition, bringing a strong vision for the future of the Copyright Office and the American copyright system in the rapid technological advances of the 21st century….
Whatever the basis for Dr. Hayden’s decision to remove Register Pallante, we should not overlook that Maria Pallante served the Copyright Office, the Library of Congress, the Congress and the nation with rare vision, dedication and fairness. We can only hope that her successor has those qualities in equal measure.