In October, U.S. Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante was suddenly removed from her position by new Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, a move that was met with dismay from many members of the music industry and creators’ rights groups. Now, Eagles founding member Don Henley has added his voice to the chorus of those decrying the decision, calling Pallante’s ouster an “enormous blow” for artists, according to the Washington Post.
“She was a champion of copyright and stood up for the creative community, which is one of the things that got her fired,” Henley said of Pallante, before turning his attention to Hayden. “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.”
In her position as Register, Pallante was seen as a generally fair and sympathetic figure when it came to expanding creators’ rights, and advocated for updating many of the Copyright Office’s tech-based policies. With the music industry’s continuous shift into the digital realm, the office has become a battleground between tech companies that have emerged as the new distributors in a streaming economy and creators, like Henley, who say they are not being fairly compensated for their work.
“There’s a mindset that the digital giants have fostered that everything on the internet should be free,” Henley told the Post. “When they say they want free and open access, that’s code for, ‘We want free content.'”
Henley is not the only voice speaking out against Pallante’s ouster; the Post also quotes the Motion Picture Association of America, U.S. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and publisher and songwriter Dean Kay as coming out against the move, with Kay calling it “a major affront to copyright,” adding, “Unless we can straighten things out and get copyright adhered to in terms of paying fairly, we’ll see great damage to all kind of creators.”
But Pallante’s exit wasn’t greeted with alarm by all fronts; non-profit organization Public Knowledge, which receives some funding from tech companies, tweeted that the ouster represented “a great opportunity to bring balance to the Office’s policy work.”
But as licensing and piracy issues continue to dominate the Copyright Office’s agenda, spurred on by demands for reform from many in the industry who are concerned about fair compensation for artists, the immediate future following Pallante’s removal is unclear as the battle over rights and payments intensifies.
“You don’t make any money from recording music anymore,” Henley said. “The streaming services have wiped out that revenue stream.”