US Librarian of Congress Carla
dropped a bombshell on Friday with the news she had
appointed Maria Pallante – who had served as US
register of copyrights since 2011 – as senior advisor
for digital strategy with Karyn Temple Claggett becoming acting
register of copyrights. The register of copryrights runs the
The news has not gone down well in many quarters, not least
with Pallante herself. She has reportedly refused the role and
resigned from the Library of Congress.
According to Billboard: "But Pallante wasn’t
told about the appointment before it was announced, according
to several sources, and she never accepted it. She was locked
out of the Library of Congress computer system, a step that
several former Copyright Office staffers say is extremely
unusual. (The Library of Congress did not comment and attempts
to reach Pallante were unsuccessful.) Pallante submitted her resignation on Monday,
"Surprised and concerned"
The decision from Hayden – who was confirmed as
Librarian of Congress in June – has led many to
The Billboard story quoted Marybeth Peters, resister of
copyright from 1994 to 2010, as saying: "People I know who care
about copyright are very disturbed. Nothing like this has ever
happened there before."
Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid thanked Pallante
for her service, praised her commitment to evidence-driven
policymaking and said her public involvement in the policy
process should serve as a model.
"We are surprised and concerned by today’s
news, which comes at a time when the Office and others are
considering many potential changes to the copyright system and
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking
Member John Conyers
issued a joint statement. "We are saddened to learn that
Maria Pallante, who served with distinction as only the 12th
Register of Copyrights and the Director of the Copyright Office
for the last five years, will be leaving the Copyright
Office. This will be a tremendous loss for the Copyright
Office and for America’s creators, innovators, and
users of copyrighted works."
They highlighted working closely with Pallante over the last
few years as the House Judiciary Committee conducted a
comprehensive review of US copyright law to determine whether
the law is still working in the digital age to reward
creativity and innovation.
"As Maria transitions from the Copyright Office, it is the
perfect opportunity to examine the selection process for the
new Register," they said. "The new Register of Copyrights
should be dedicated to protecting creative rights and
modernizing the Copyright Office."
The Authors Guild also said it was "
disappointed to see Pallante go".
Now attention turns to what happens next. The Billboard
article included some speculation.
"Some Washington insiders cautioned that
Pallante’s removal may have less to do with an
ideological battle than a turf war. Pallante has advocated
moving the Copyright Office out of the Library of Congress and
making the Register a presidential appointee – which
would have taken away one of Hayden’s most
important oversight responsibilities. And in
Pallante’s reassignment memo (a copy of which was
obtained by Billboard from a Washington
insider), Hayden gives Pallante jobs that have little to do
with her copyright expertise, including identifying 'retail and
licensing opportunities for the Library’. Hayden
also writes that 'I do not anticipate that this assignment will
require any communications with Members of Congress or
congressional staff,’ an unusual point to
The Patently-O blog noted that the move would
renew calls for a unified US intellectual property