On Friday, October 21 the copyright world was rocked by news that Registerr of Copyrights Maria Pallante had been reassigned to a new position by the new Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. Three days later, Pallante resigned. I haven’t written about this for the blog because, frankly, I don’t know enough about the politics of the Copyright Office to have an opinion about it. What I can do is link to some articles I’ve read on the topic that I think are significant:
· This blog post by Brandon Butler (who I link to often) describes the outcry that greeted Pallante’s resignation as “a remarkable admission that the content industry saw Pallante as on their side rather than as a neutral arbiter in the copyright ecosystem” and suggests that Pallante’s repeated calls for the Copyright Office to become an independent agency (as opposed to a department within the Library of Congress) was the most likely reason she was reassigned.
· This Library Journal article by Matt Enis and this Publisher’s Weekly article by Andrew Albanese provide balanced overviews of the controversy that are dense with leeks to other sources, including statements by the content industry groups (such as the Author’s Guild) criticized by Butler.
· I include this Washington Post article by Peggy McGlone which describes the controversy differently as a clash between an alliance of tech companies like Google and libraries and “the film, television, music and publishing industries, which contribute between $750 billion and $1 trillion in annual economic activity and employ more than 5 million people” and this Wall Street Journal op-ed which strongly implies that Pallante was fired at Google’s request because they are likely the most widely-read accounts of this saga. I don’t recognize the adversarial situation that either one describes, though.
Looking forward, Librarian Hayden has invited the public to provide input on the next Register of Copyright’s qualification through this online form. However it plays out, this will undoubtedly be one of the most important copyright stories of 2017! Its biggest competition is probably the release of what the House Judiciary Committee is calling the first policy proposal to come out of its review of U.S. Copyright Law. The HJC asked for written comments, and today Brandon Butler and Nancy Sims separately announced that they are co-signers of a letter by 42 lawyers, scholars, and expert librarians in response to this request. I will continue to follow both stories throughout the year!
Some other things I have planned for 2017 include coverage of this year’s Kraemer Copyright Conference, which I likely won’t be able to attend but hope to follow through blogs and social media (and which is accepting proposals for contributed papers and break-out and poster sessions through January 13, by the way), and a review of Copyright for Multimedia, the sequel to the Copyright for Educators and Librarians MOOC I wrote about this year.
If there’s anything else you’d like to see my cover, please let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org! Thanks for reading, everybody, and Happy New Year!
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