Librarian of Congress Removes Head of Copyright

Pallante had argued office should become independent from LOC

Library of Congress nominee Carla D. Hayden speaks during a hearing before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, in the Russell Senate Office Building, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden on Friday announced she had removed the head of the U.S. Copyright Office, who last year asserted to Congress that the office should be independent and no longer under the LOC umbrella.

Maria Pallante will become senior adviser for digital strategy, according to a library statement. Karyn Temple Claggett, currently the associate register of copyrights, will head the office while a national search is conducted for a new permanent register.

“Maria’s service as register has laid the groundwork for important modernization efforts in the Copyright Office which I intend to pursue, working in close collaboration with Congress and stakeholders,” Hayden said in a statement. “Improved information technology for the office will be a top priority. I am committed to making sure the copyright system of the United States is effective, efficient and secure.”

Pallente was appointed by former Librarian of Congress James Billington in 2011. In a letter last year to House Judiciary ranking member John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., she argued the copyright office should no longer be part of the library, citing “mounting operational tensions” and a number of other concerns.

“We believe that these interests would be served best by establishing an independent copyright agency to administer the law, and by designating a leader that is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate,” Pallante wrote.

Lawmakers with jurisdiction over the library have cited the Copyright Office as an area of concern. The Government Accountability Office last year found the office lacked a strategic information technology plan and didn't justify investments in technology.

The nonprofit Copyright Alliance, which represents individual creators and more than 13,000 organizations, said it was “surprised and concerned” by Pallante's removal, adding she was “a steadfast advocate for modernizing the Copyright Office,” according to a statement by the group's CEO Keith Kupferschmid.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.