@wsj: A Copyright Coup in Washington: The new Librarian of Congress ousts a federal copyright defender [Congress should investigate]

[Editor Charlie sez: This opinion post is from the Wall Street Journal editorial board calling out the Librarian of Congress for a “botched personnel dispute” that is tainted by Hayden’s longstanding relationship with entities funded by Google.]

PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Most Americans think of Google as a search engine doing unalloyed social good, but the company also wants to make money and wield political influence along the way. So you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to notice that an abrupt change of leadership at the U.S. Copyright Office is good news for Google, which aims to pay less for profiting from the property of others.

Maria Pallante served for more than five years as the U.S. register of copyrights, a division of the Library of Congress. Two weeks ago Ms. Pallante was reshuffled to an advisory post for “digital strategy” she never sought, a job that included expanding the library gift shop. Three days later she resigned in a letter to the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, who had been sworn in mere weeks earlier. What happened?

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Ms. Hayden’s allies say she simply wants to install her own loyalists, and maybe so. Ms. Pallante favored reorganizing the copyright office as an independent agency, which might have felt threatening to Ms. Hayden. But we can find no similar removal of a copyright register, and the details are unusual.

 The Library’s public announcement said nothing more about Ms. Pallante’s tenure than that it “laid the groundwork for important modernization.” But in a memo to Ms. Pallante that leaked to the press, Ms. Hayden stipulated that her new job did not include “any communications” with Congress, which was reviewing copyright laws with Ms. Pallante. The House Judiciary Committee put out a bipartisan statement calling Ms. Pallante’s departure a “tremendous loss.”

There is some circumstantial evidence that Google’s lobbying influence was brought to bear in removing Ms. Pallante, though both Google and Ms. Pallante declined to talk to us. Google’s business model is essentially making money off other people’s content, and the company’s strategy has been to infringe on copyrighted material like books and fight it out later in court. The copyright office administers laws that protect owners.

For example, Ms. Pallante’s office opposed a Justice Department interpretation of licensing that would have undercut collaborations. As it happens, that change was reportedly pushed by a former outside counsel for Google who had moved over to Justice. Ms. Pallante’s view won in court.

Earlier this year the Federal Communications Commission proposed something known as the set-top box rule. The thrust was to force cable companies to build a universal adapter so Google and others could broadcast content without paying licensing fees or abiding by carriage agreements. Google supported the new rule. Less pleased were creators, who wouldn’t be paid for their work.

Read the full post on the Wall Street Journal 

 

@emzanotti: Power Grab: Is Google Trying to End Copyrights Once and For All?

Google has been on a quest to limit copyright holders’ rights when it comes to the written word, even winning a landmark Supreme Court case declaring that its Google Books program, which digitizes hundreds of [tens of millions] books, was creating “transformative works,” and not infringing on authors’ copyright.

Now, it seems, that Google is making a play for an even greater target: television. And they’ve already stacked the government deck in their favor. What’s at stake here? One of the greatest land-grabs in the history of content. And no one is looking….

Google appears to have already placed friendly officials high places, while using its sway with academics to make its case with the FCC that your cable — and cable’s copyrights — should be free.

Starting in 2016, Google-related appointees began appearing across the Obama Administration. Carla Hayden, who recently took over at the Library of Congress, was President of the American Library Association, a huge recipient of Google funding (largely because of Google’s digital library programs). The Library of Congress, of course, is home to the US Copyright Office, and the Register of Copyrights — America’s highest ranking copryight official.

When the set-top box proposal came to Congress, they of course turned to the US Copyright Office for insight as to whether Google, among other set-top box companies, might be infringing on cable’s copyright.

Google appeared to immediately exert its power. Five copyright academics sent a letter to the US Copyright Office defending set-top boxes, and all five had at least some ties to Google.

Signer Peter Jazsi was a member of Google’s policy fellowship program, an advocate on IP issues, and a founder of the Digital Future Coalition, which includes several organizations funded by Google. Signer Pam Samuelson, a Berkeley School of Information professor, is on the board of several non-profits that receive significant grants from Google. Signer Annemarie Bridy was a scholar at Stanford University’s Center for Internet & Society, whose largest corporate benefactor is Google.

Many of those same groups pushed back when Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante said it was likely set-top devices could infringe on cable companies’ copyrights. One group, Public Knowledge, even claimed Pallante was in the pocket of cable and entertainment interests.

Weirdly, as soon as the new Library of Congress head (Hayden) was sworn in, Pallante lost her job as Register of Copyrights. She was first demoted and then resigned, opening up a space — conveniently — for a friendlier Registrar.

Read the post on Heat Street.

@tedstew: BREAKING: FCC Pulls Set-Top Box Plan From Meeting Agenda

The FCC has called off a planned Thursday vote on a proposal that would require that cable and satellite operators offer a free app so subscribers could forgo the rental of a set-top box.

“We are still working to resolve the remaining technical and legal issues and we are committed to unlocking the set-top box for consumers across this country,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Commission Mignon Clyburn and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement released about a half an hour before the meeting.

Read the post on Variety

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The copyright-destroying proposal was backed by Google Shill Lister Public Knowledge, whose co-founder and revolving door person, Gigi B. Sohn, now works as consigliere for Obama bundler Tom Wheeler.

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Gigi B. Sohn

Google Shills and Pandora’s MIC Coalition Want DOJ to Appeal BMI Ruling–Soviet Style — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

 

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Right on cue, one Google Shill after another is floating the idea that the U.S. Department of Justice should appeal their latest oopsie to the Second Circuit.

Talk about ungrateful–Judge Stanton, the BMI Rate Court judge was also the judge in Viacom v. YouTube and the accompanying artist-oriented class action against Google.  In the YouTube case, Judge Stanton ruled for YouTube.

Back then he was hailed by Google Shills everywhere as a great jurist, the peoples’ judge and hero of the disruptive class, because he poked a finger in the eye of bourgeois artists.

Talk about your sore losers–Judge Stanton went from #hero to #goat in record time as CCIA’s Matt Schruers told Bloomberg…

via Google Shills and Pandora’s MIC Coalition Want DOJ to Appeal BMI Ruling–Soviet Style — MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY

Steve Tepp: Public “Selective” Knowledge II: This Time It’s Personal

Public Knowledge has launched unprecedented and unfounded attacks on the widely respected Copyright Office in a transparent bid to bully, berate, and discredit that Office in furtherance of the drastic policy goals PK has failed to achieve for decades. That may sound harsh, but the statements coming from PK in recent weeks are so outrageous and so far afield of what constitutes reasonable discourse that they demand a forceful response. PK has led a relentless campaign that portrays reasonable policy differences as evidence of impropriety. Apparently, they are unable to imagine that anyone could, in good faith, disagree with their orthodoxy. This is compounded by a Stalin-esque recounting of history, both tortured and selective, in an attempt to support their absolutist approach.

Public Knowledge has launched unprecedented and unfounded attacks on the widely respected Copyright Office in a transparent bid to bully, berate, and discredit that Office in furtherance of the drastic policy goals PK has failed to achieve for decades. That may sound harsh, but the statements coming from PK in recent weeks are so outrageous and so far afield of what constitutes reasonable discourse that they demand a forceful response. PK has led a relentless campaign that portrays reasonable policy differences as evidence of impropriety. Apparently, they are unable to imagine that anyone could, in good faith, disagree with their orthodoxy. This is compounded by a Stalin-esque recounting of history, both tortured and selective, in an attempt to support their absolutist approach.

In a new “report” released last week, PK levels the severe charge that the Copyright Office is systematically captured by industry interests. They begin to try to support this by asserting a “revolving door” between the Office and copyright industries. But their evidence fails to support the claim, and they leave out many facts that are inconvenient to their biased narrative.

Read the post on Medium

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