Musicians Action Statement on Removal of Maria Pallante from Position of Register of Copyrights
Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante has resigned in response to an insulting and unprecedented “reassignment” carried out by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.
We at Musicians Action are very concerned about the recent removal of Maria Pallante from the position of Register of Copyrights. Not only is such “reassignment” unprecedented in U.S. history but the timing is particularly alarming. It happened right after Maria Pallante opposed Google’s corporate agenda that would sweep intellectual property and creators’ rights under the rug. In the recent months, she questioned the legitimacy of the notorious “100 percent licensing,” the Google-inspired rule that defied both common sense and human decency, and sent waves of disbelief and outrage through the entire community of working music creators. She also opposed the “Unlock the Box” proposal from the FCC that was crafted to benefit Google.
If her removal is not special interest interference in governance at the highest level, then we don’t know what is. As Americans, we are very alarmed by this development.
It is also noteworthy that the removal of a highly skilled and honorable professional such as Maria Pallante happened at the time when Congress is reviewing current copyright law and considering changes. We are in a critical time period. If our great nation is to continue producing the kind of culture that the entire world admires, it is essential that intellectual property is NOT treated lightly. While tech giants of the Silicon Valley might gain disproportionate advantage if content creators are silenced, America and Americans won’t.
We recognize Karyn Temple Claggett, who has been appointed as the acting register, as an experienced, capable, and even handed public servant, and we call on Congress to ensure the integrity the office by either making her appointment permanent, or finding someone similarly qualified.
We call upon Congress to ensure that the work Maria began in updating the copyright law to ensure better protection for creators remains a priority, to reject ill-considered proposals that would further erode the copyright protection upon which creators are dependent, and to protect creators from unfair competition with the online black market in copyright infringing work by:
-Ending special privilege ‘safe harbor’ protections for corporate hosting platforms with ‘red flag’ knowledge of mass infringement.
-Ending the game of whack-a-mole by reforming the DMCA so that a single unchallenged take-down notice effects the take-down of all identical files on a site…permanently.
-Supervising to completion the establishment of Standard Technical Measures to protect creators rights online. The technology to protect creators – without harming freedom of speech or genuine ‘fair uses’ — already exists: major serving platforms refusing to adopt it should lose special privilege “safe harbor” protections.
-Adopting other policy recommendations of the Music Community response to the USCO inquiry on section 512 of the DMCA.
We ask Congress to resist the pressure of special interests who would destroy the integrity of the Copyright Office’s historic mission.
We would like to thank Maria Pallante for her continuous and thoughtful efforts to advance the public interest by trying to ensure that working creators are able to live through our craft. It is essential that the next Register continue this essential work, and to evolve the copyright system so that the public interest in effective copyright protection continues to inform the development of norms and practices in this space. Too many observers posit a false division between the interests of the public and those of working creators, and many of those who do so are seeking to defend exploitative practices that eliminate the need to obtain the permission of the creator. Society can ill afford a Register that fails to properly understand this key point.
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Musicians Action is a participatory democratic grass roots organization dedicated to public direct action to support economic justice for working artists in the digital domain. MA is comprised exclusively of working musicians. We have no paid staff, no offices, no DC presence, no lobbyists…indeed, no funding. We have come together to present the voice of working artists. We exist for one purpose, and one purpose only—to inform legal policy discussions about how the decisions being made affect our livelihoods and ability to create, and to highlight the importance of modern and effective copyright protection to our ability to sustain ourselves and to fuel our creative output.