Maria Pallante Removed as Head of Copyright Office

Posted on 10/25/2016 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

After five years in the position of US Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante was fired last Friday. Pallante was informed of her change in roles by being locked out of her computer.

Maria has been a huge advocate for the rights of Creators and instrumental in the industry’s efforts for modernizing the Copyright Office and the creation of a Small Claim’s Court for Creators. She has been seen as being fair and unbiased by all who know her.

Officially, Pallante has been appointed as a senior adviser for digital strategy for the Library of Congress, although it’s clear she was asked to step down. Karyn Temple Claggett, currently associate register of copyrights, has been appointed acting register.

This move by the the newly appointed Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, is seen by many as a line in the sand as to how the Library of Congress wants creators to be treated. Dr. Hayden is the former CEO of The Open Society Institute a George Soros funded group. The Soros foundation money regularly finds it way to groups that wish to further weaken or abolish copyright protections for authors all together. Copyright has become a contentious issue, and Hayden, as the librarian of Congress, has the authority to make a new appointment without congressional review.

The register of copyrights has limited power to set policy but often provides important guidance to Congress. Pallante, called for a copyright reform process in March 2013 and begun work on it with Congress. “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 Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid in a statement.

The search for a new Register of Copyrights is likely to be a contentious one, since technology companies and organizations that they fund believe that the Copyright Office tends to be biased toward creators.

The Library of Congress has a reputation for using out-of-date technology, and during her tenure, Pallante advocated moving the Copyright Office into the executive branch of government, which would make the register of copyrights a presidential appointee. (The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which oversees the other two most important kinds of intellectual property, operates under the U.S. Department of Commerce.) One source speculated that this could have alienated Hayden.

Pallante has served as register of copyright since her appointment in 2011 by James Billington. Prior to that appointment, Pallante served as deputy general counsel (2007-2008) and associate register and director of policy and international affairs (2008-2011) for the office. From 1999-2007 she was intellectual property counsel and director of licensing for the worldwide Guggenheim Museums. She also worked for two authors’ organizations in New York, serving as assistant director of the Authors Guild Inc. and as executive director of the National Writers Union. She practiced at the Washington, D.C., law firm and literary agency Lichtman, Trister, Singer and Ross, and completed a clerkship in administrative law for the appellate division of the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Trichordist, a community blog for those interested in contributing to the advancement of a Sustainable and Ethical Internet for the protection of Artists Rights in the Digital Age, made the following comments about Pallante’s firing.
    “The Register of Copyrights has recently earned the ire of Public Knowledge, a Google astroturf group hostile to copyright. The Copyright Office sensibly pointed out that the Public Knowledge backed 100% licensing rule for songwriters, would unconstitutionally interfere with private contracts and lead to licensing chaos (A federal judge subsequently agreed). Public Knowledge had a hissy fit. Similarly the Copyright Office had weighed in negatively on the Google backed version of ‘Unlock the Box’ at the FCC. While on the surface the ‘unlock the box’ set top box reform proposal seems sensible, The Public Knowledge/Google version is apparently larded with goodies for Google, like a compulsory licensing type scheme for video content that likely violates separation of powers doctrine. In reaction to these two events Public Knowledge wrote this hatchet job on the Register of Copyrights calling for Pallante’s removal. Perhaps it’s just coincidental but it sure looks like Dr Hayden is doing the bidding of a Google astroturf group. Certainly it’s worth some questioning.”
A lawyer who works for organizations that support strong copyright laws said, “The people in the creative community are furious about the fact that this was done, but especially about the way it was done.”

Copyright © 2016 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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