By Mickey Osterreicher
As we hope most of you are aware, last month the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, took the unusual step of “reassigning” Maria Pallante from her position as Register of Copyrights at the United States Copyright Office. Not unexpectedly, Ms. Pallante resigned almost immediately after being locked out of her office and denied computer access.
We have worked closely with Ms. Pallante and her staff for almost six years on copyright law, upholding copyright principles and helping find ways to modernize the Copyright Office.
A number of Congressional Committee Members with oversight of the Library and the Copyright Office expressed their displeasure at this turn of events and urged the Librarian to work with them in selecting the next Register. Instead Dr. Hayden chose to create a Survey Monkey poll, the results of which will be used to help “inform development of the knowledge, skills and abilities” she is allegedly looking for in the next Register.
Many visual arts groups and small creators believe this is a thinly-veiled attempt to allow those seeking to weaken copyright protection to unduly influence the selection process by skewing the criteria in their favor.
We have seen this happen before with the demonization of proposed copyright protection bills, which were ultimately defeated by those with a mob mentality of entitlement to our work without permission, credit or compensation.
Therefore, we urge you to take the survey ASAP, but in any event before the January 31, 2017 deadline.
Below we have provided some model responses to the questions. Rest assured that there will be tens, if not hundreds of thousands of responses by those favoring a Register who is far less understanding of, or sympathetic to, our rights. If we have any chance of success in keeping copyright protection strong you must participate and make your voices heard! We also ask that you encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same.
NPPA Model Responses to the Librarian of Congress’ Register of Copyrights Survey
1. What are the knowledge, skills, and abilities you believe are the most important for the Register of Copyrights?
The next Register of Copyrights must:
- Be dedicated to both a robust copyright system and Copyright Office.
- Recognize the important role that creators of copyrighted works play in promoting our nation’s financial well-being.
- Have significant experience in, and a strong commitment to, the copyright law.
- Have a substantial background in representing the interests of creators of copyright works.
- Possess a deep appreciation for the special challenges facing individual creators and small businesses in protecting their creative works.
- Possess a keen understanding of, and a strong commitment to, preserving the longstanding and statutorily-based functions of the Copyright Office, especially its advising the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on domestic and international copyright issues.
- Have the solid support of the copyright community.
2. What should be the top three priorities for the Register of Copyrights?
- Continue the traditional and critical role of the Register as a forceful advocate for both a vibrant copyright system and a strong Copyright Office that works closely with the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in promoting a strong and effective copyright law.
- A commitment to moving quickly to modernize the Copyright Office with a special focus on updating and making more affordable and simpler the registration and recordation processes.
- Working with Congress to achieve enactment of legislation creating a small claims process that finally provides individual creators with a viable means of protecting their creative efforts.
3. Are there other factors that should be considered?
As a creative, I believe, to the extent possible, that the views of those whose works are protected by copyright law should be given greater weight in this survey than those who are not. It is also crucial that the views of the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, be given great deference in the selection of the next Register.
The survey can be found at https://www.research.net/r/RegisterOfCopyrightsNR