US Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante has been removed from her position by the new Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, effective today.
Pallante, in her position as the head of the Washington, DC-based US Copyright Office (USCO), was the country’s foremost copyright expert to the government and the legislative branch. Pallante has been appointed by Hayden as senior advisor for digital strategy. Search for a new Register of Copyrights has started. In the interim, Assistant Register of Copyrights and Director of Policy & International Affairs Karyn Temple Claggett will be the acting Register.
In the role of senior advisor, Pallante "will support the Librarian’s agency-wide digital strategy, advising on collecting and preserving digital materials, collections copyright status, licensing opportunities and third-party collaborations related to digital content," said the Library of Congress. "I want to move aggressively toward making our collections as widely accessible as possible," Hayden said. “I need focused expertise in the areas of copyright and licensing to ensure we execute these plans in full consideration of copyright protections. This is an opportunity not only to expand collections access, but to integrate education about the nation¹s copyright system into that process.
Hayden added, “Maria's service as register has laid the groundwork for important modernization efforts in the Copyright Office which I intend to pursue, working in close collaboration with Congress and stakeholders. Improved information technology for the office will be a top priority. I am committed to making sure the copyright system of the United States is effective, efficient and secure."
Pallante ascended to the post in 2011, succeeding long serving Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters. During her tenure she hinted that she would favour an independent Copyright Office, no longer under the umbrella of the Library of Congress, with its own budget and its own infrastructure.
Sources in Washington speculate that Hayden and Pallante have conflicted over the need to modernise the USCO and the proper allocation of budget resources for the task. Pallante’s desire for an independent USCO may have also been a source of conlict.
The USCO was also recently subject to a hatchet report by public advocacy group the Public Knowledge, complaining that too many of the Office’s members had close ties to the creative industries. "There has been a lot of pushback against the USCO because of their policy positions, like the the PK rant about how the CO is controlled by the content industries,” said a Washington, DC-based source.