In some interesting news – On Friday Oct 21st, Maria Pallante was apparently removed today from her post as Register of Copyright within the Library of Congress and Karyn Temple Claggett moved up as Acting Register. According to reports, newly installed Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden ordered the change that involved Pallante being locked-out of her computer Friday morning.
An oddity – the US Copyright Office is part of the Library of Congress and thus under direct administration of Congress rather than the President (and Congress is not very good at running administrative agencies). Under the current structure, the Register position is quite weak. That said, Congress has recently relied upon the Copyright Office to make increasingly important market determinations. However, the structure means that the President and Executive Agencies cannot rely upon the US Copyright Office for advice about copyright law or rely upon the agency to shape its policy.
In a 2012 post, I suggested creation of a United States Intellectual Property Organization (USIPO) akin to the UK IPO, Canadian IPO, and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The structure would essentially be an expansion of the USPTO under presidential control although obviously still required to follow law set by Congress. In 2012 I wrote that:
From a theoretical standpoint, it is unclear whether the [current] fractured administrative structure leads to rights that are either too strong or too weak. What we can tell is that the [current] structure leads to a lack of coordination in administration of the various IP systems within the US.
A big problem with the fractured administration is that many operating businesses relying upon intellectual property (IP) rights typically do not focus on a single form of IP rights but instead take a layered approach that includes some combination of patent, trademark, copyright, contractual, employment, trade secret, and design rights, for instance. Each form of protection has weak points and overlapping coverage provides a greater level of certainty. That overlapping nature also creates difficulties for users that hope to rely upon the public domain and fair use. The overlapping approach suggests the need for a more unified administration approach to help ensure that IP rights serve their policy goals.
In her role as Register of Copyrights, Pallante had advocated transforming the Copyright Office into an executive agency. It is unclear, however, whether those statements relate to her recent removal.