Much needed major copyright reform seemed on track until Friday when the U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante was suddenly pushed aside. Many in the music industry are expressing concern over the move; with some seeing the mighty hand of Google pulling strings at the highest level of government.
Maria Pallante abruptly exited her role as the U.S. Register of Copyrights and is moving to a new advisory post. The change as made by Carla Hayden who was just confirmed to head the Library of Congress, under which the Register of Copyrights serves.
Pallante, who had served since 2011, will now serve as a senior adviser for digital strategy for the Library of Congress. Staffer Karyn Temple Claggett will serve as acting register of copyrights.
Locked Out Of Her Computer
According to Billboard, "Pallante was locked out of her computer this morning, according to two sources who spoke with Library employees. Earlier, [the nominal head of the Library of Congress] had called several members of Congress to tell them about her decision. Later, she called the heads of several media business trade organizations to give them the news, according to one who received such a call."
Music Industry Reaction
The surprise Friday announcement was met with concern from many in the music industry.
“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 law,” said Keith Kupferschmid, the CEO of the Copyright Alliance in a statement.
"This firing is virtually unprecedented in US history," writes David Lowery. " The Librarian of Congress generally leaves the Register of Copyrights to run the affairs of the copyright office. However in the last two months the main Google mouthpiece in Washington DC Public Knowledge has been clamoring for her head."
"Make no mistake, this is Google flexing its considerable pay-to-play muscle," says Chris Castle. "The timing is predictable - Google fires Pallante days before a general election, in the waning days of the Obama Administration. They don’t give a good goddamn about whether it’s the Library of Congress or the Vulcan Science Academy. They control the players and they’ll do what they want especially when they think no one is looking. "