Industry & Advocacy News
January 10, 2017
The Library of Congress has started the process of filling the position of Register of Copyrights, formerly held by the much-admired Maria Pallante. Pallante was removed from office on October 21 by the new Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden. In an unprecedented move, the Library is first seeking public input on the qualifications for the incoming Register of Copyrights and the issues the new Register should focus on.
While it is highly unusual for a government agency to solicit public input on the qualifications of a government appointee (those in the best position to know the requirements of a government agency job are those who work in or with the agency), we encourage all of you to participate, as we can expect the tech community—based on past Copyright Office public comment proceedings—to generate tens of thousands of responses. Further, we believe that the survey’s goals are noble ones—to solicit public opinion as an attempt to create an open and transparent process, and to quell the uproar that arose within the creative community upon learning of Pallante’s removal.
The survey asks any member of the public to respond via SurveyMonkey to a few simple questions—what qualities the Register should possess, what issues he or she should focus on, and what other factors should be considered. The survey provides no background on what the responsibilities of the Register are or even what the Copyright Office does. While we find the usefulness of this public survey—especially as it does not first educate potential respondents—questionable, we encourage our members and all other authors and creators to complete it. It’s important that the Library hear from us, as individual authors, on how the Register will best serve the independent creative community. Here is some background on the role and responsibilities of the Copyright Office.
The online survey, available here, will be open to the public through January 31, 2017.
We’ve taken the liberty of composing, in conjunction with the Copyright Alliance, a variety of sample responses, provided below. Feel free to use as much or little as you like, but keep in mind that a variety of responses, written in each author’s own words, is likely to be more persuasive than a series of identical responses.
Lastly, we encourage you to share the link to this survey—and/or your responses to it—via social media. The more authors the Library hears from, the more likely we are to get a Register who is sympathetic to the value of books in our society and the unique set of challenges faced by authors.
The next Register of Copyrights must:
Other qualities in a Register that would be beneficial but not essential, include having:
A Register of Copyrights possessing the knowledge, skills, and abilities outlined above will be more than qualified to make determinations about policy priorities. That being said, the following three issues are important to individual authors like myself.
[Below is a menu of seven options to choose three from; or write your own.]
It is imperative that the interests of creators and users of the Office be weighted more than those who simply complete and submit the survey but have no demonstrable experience with the Office. It is also important that both the views of the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, current Copyright Office staff, copyright practitioners, and former Registers be taken into account in the selection of the next Register.