Thursday, November 03, 2016

Google May Be Influencing Copyright Office Leadership

On November 2, 2016, The Wall Street Journal published an article [Subscription Required] connecting Google’s lobbying efforts and turnover at the Copyright Office. Maria Pallante served more than five years as the U.S. Register of Copyrights before resigning last month. Ms. Pallante opposed several efforts that Google supported, including the FCC’s set-top box proposal and a Justice Department interpretation of copyright licensing. The article states the following:
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.
The new Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden may be hiring new employees to revamp a Copyright Office that is in need of modernization, but Ms. Pallante was a dedicated public servant with a thoughtful perspective on copyright. Given Ms. Hayden’s former relationship with Google, the article says that she may have pushed out Ms. Pallante and her opposing views. But let’s hope this decision was made in the interest of protecting copyright and modernizing the Copyright Office to achieve an easily accessible, efficient, and reliable registration and recordation system.