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Don Henley says US Copyright Office chief fired because she stood up for creatives

By | Published on Thursday 10 November 2016

US Copyright Office

Don Henley off of The Eagles has voiced a concern expressed by a number of key players in the American artist community about the recent sacking of Maria Pallante from the top job at the US Copyright Office: that it’s proof that the new Librarian Of Congress is anti-copyright and pro-Google.

As previously reported, Pallante was abruptly axed from the position of Register Of Copyrights last month. In that job she ran the US Copyright Office and, while that didn’t mean she had much actual power over American intellectual property policy, it was nevertheless an influential role, with Congress often looking to the Office for guidance on copyright issues.

For historic reasons the Copyright Office sits under the Library Of Congress, and it was the recently appointed boss of that organisation, Carla Hayden, who sacked Pallante. Well, technically she reassigned the copyright chief into an advisory role within the Library itself, but Pallante turned down that new job.

The move shocked and concerned many in the American copyright industries and creative community who generally saw Pallante as their champion in Washington, where the lobbies of big tech and traditional radio often have a louder voice than the creative community and entertainment business

In a new piece in the LA Times, songwriter and music publisher Dean Kay called Pallante’s sacking “a major affront to copyright”, adding that “Google seems to be taking over the world – and politics … Their major position is to allow themselves to use copyright material without remuneration. If the Copyright Office head is toeing the Google line, creators are going to get hurt”.

Henley, meanwhile, told the newspaper: “[Pallante] was a champion of copyright and stood up for the creative community, which is one of the things that got her fired. The Librarian wants free content, and the Copyright Office is there to protect creators of content. They are diametrically opposed ideologies. [Hayden] has a long track record of being an activist librarian who is anti-copyright and a librarian who worked at places funded by Google”.

Although the Library Of Congress didn’t want to comment on Kay and Henley’s remarks when approached by the LA Times, it pointed to a commitment its new boss made to the US Senate earlier this year to ensure the Copyright Office functions “in a way that will protect the people it serves, and that is the creators of content”.

That won’t stop many in the creative community fearing that a friend of big bad Google is now overseeing the department that advises Congress on copyright. Of course President Elect Trump has vowed to try and weaken the hold the big lobbying organisations have over Washington politics. Though no one’s expecting his government to be a champion of musician rights either. If only we could find a popstar who hasn’t declared Trump and all he stands for to be evil incarnate. If only Taylor Swift hadn’t worn that grey vest.