@lg601 @paythewriter: National Writers Union Statement on the Firing of Maria Pallante

October 28, 2016 by 

On Friday, October 21, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden summarily removed Maria Pallante as Register of Copyright and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office, the position she had held since 2011. It was the first time the head of the Copyright Office had been removed in 119 years!  Ms. Pallante was reassigned as an advisor to the Librarian. Associate Register Karyn Temple Claggett was appointed Acting Register.

On Monday, October 24, Ms. Pallante resigned, telling Dr. Hayden, “I hope you will respect that I do not accept the reassignment…that was announced on Friday.” Having been locked out of her computer, she also added, “I would be grateful for your accommodation as I say goodbye to colleagues and collect personal items this week, and would appreciate the reinstatement of access to my computer and emails so that I may appropriately archive records and remove photos of my family.”

We have no inside knowledge of what may have led to these abrupt changes. But real issues are stake in copyright policy, both at the Copyright Office and at the Library of Congress (of which the Copyright Office is a component).

More than twenty years ago, Maria Pallante served with distinction as the executive director of the NWU. Although her tenure with the NWU was relatively brief, we remember and honor her independence, her intelligence, and her ability to understand and work with our diverse membership — the same independence, intelligence, and ability to understand the perspectives of diverse interest groups that she demonstrated as Register of Copyright, and that has distinguished the work of the Copyright Office staff. We thank Maria Pallante for her contributions to our union, to the Copyright Office, and to the nation.

We have disagreed strongly with many of the proposals and recommendations made by the Copyright Office under Ms. Pallante, just as under her predecessors. Some of the priorities for our copyright advocacy are to oppose legislation the Copyright Office has proposed or endorsed during Ms. Pallante’s term, such as to create new exceptions to copyright to allow copying of so-called “orphaned” works without payment or permission of the writers , undercutting those writers’ incomes.

The NWU has never had any special access or influence at the Copyright Office. Nor should we. Nor should anyone else.

Read the post on National Writers Union

@s_schlackman: A Major Loss for Creators in the Copyright War

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.

Read the post on Art Law Journal

@andreworlowski: Murder in the Library of Congress

The US Copyright Office has been given a brutal Silicon Valley-style sacking, the first time the Copyright Register has been dismissed in 119 years.

Maria A Pallante was locked out of her computer on Friday, according to Billboard, on the instructions of her boss, a new Obama appointee, Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress.

“Officially, Pallante has been appointed as a senior adviser for digital strategy for the Library of Congress, although it’s clear she was asked to step down,” Billboard’s Robert Levine notes.

Critics see the move as in line with Silicon Valley asserting its influence over the US Government via its agencies in the dog days of the Obama Administration. Just last month, as Hayden started the post, the Google-funded group Public Knowledge attacked the Copyright Office for upholding the copyright laws.

“Pallante was the only one standing between Google and what is left of the copyright system,” wrote David Lowery on the Trichordist blog, which campaigns for better deals for songwriters and musicians.

Controversial decisions by the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission have all resulted in proposals or decisions that advanced the business interests of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies.

For example, after an investigation of Google for anti-competitive practices, FTC staff concluded there was sufficient evidence to indict – but the Obama-appointed trade commissioners abandoned this for a voluntary deal instead.

Read the post on The Register.

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.


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).

Google White House Meetings

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.