My response to the Library of Congress survey

By now, most of you will have heard that the new Librarian of Congress,  Carla Hayden, removed Maria Pallante from the post of the Register of Copyrights.

There have been a lot of stupid conspiracy theories running around about it (including the one originating from Chris Castle that Google was somehow behind it, despite the fact that Carla Hayden has no relation to Google at all). Of course, these turned out to be utter bullshit. Pallante was removed because she repeatedly and publicly advocated that the Copyright Office be removed from the auspices of the Library of Congress.

Whatever the case, the Library of Congress has been doing something previously unheard of, and actually asked the public to weigh in on how to decide who should take her place. They have set up a survey here:

Librarian of Congress Seeks Input on Register of Copyrights

The survey period ends on January 31st, so if it’s not already too late when you read this, I strongly encourage everyone to submit comments today.

Here is what I submitted.

1. What are the knowledge, skills, and abilities you believe are the most important for the Register of Copyrights?

* A deep understanding of copyright statutes, and of the way these statutes are interpreted by the courts.

* The recognition that owners, creators, users, and consumers of copyrighted content, all have different but equally valid interests in copyright. He or she must have the ability to work with all these stakeholders and their often-conflicting interests.

* The ability to accurately communicate the law, and represent the various stakeholders’ viewpoints, to Congress or other government agencies. They must be able to do so without preference to any particular industry, and without any political agenda.

2. What should be the top three priorities for the Register of Copyrights?
Priority #1
The Constitution requires that the primary beneficiary of copyright be the general public. To this end, the Register must advocate on behalf of the general public above all other stakeholders.

Priority #2
The Register must ensure that the implementation of copyright statues does not interfere with free speech, or with public access to information, including (but not limited to) digital information.

Priority #3
The Register should ensure that authors and artists are fairly compensated for their works, regardless of their status as copyright holders.
3. Are there other factors that should be considered?

The Register of Copyrights must be free from undue influence from the private sector. In particular, he or she must not have worked as a lobbyist for an industry or trade group with a direct copyright interest, such as the MPAA, RIAA, Authors’ Guild, etc.

I think all of this is well said (though of course I would). Feel free to use my comments as a starting point for your own.

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