Has politics cost Register of Copyrights her job?

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2016 | Employee Discrimination

Discrimination is against the law. Federal workers in Texas or anywhere else in the country who feel they’ve been the target of discrimination have statutory protections, but it’s up to the individual to understand those rights and fight for them.

Some discrimination is blatant but as we’ve noted previously, sometimes it takes more subtle forms. And while civil service laws aim to minimize or block negative job actions based on political favoritism, experts would agree that can and does occur.

This may be especially true for jobs in which the employee essentially works for two masters. The Register of Copyrights serves as an example. The person who holds this job works for the Library of Congress. As such, the person in that post is technically an “agent” of Congress. He or she reports to the Librarian of Congress and is tasked with providing lawmakers with reports and recommendations on copyright issues.

However, the Librarian and the Register effectively serve at the pleasure of the President, so federal employment protections don’t necessarily apply. Politics can be leveraged, and this is what some critics say has happened to the immediate past holder of the Register’s office.

Artists in the music, film, TV and publishing industries are being particularly vocal about the removal of Maria Pallante from her Copyright Office position. Last month, the Librarian of Congress took her out of the role she had held since 2011 and put her in an advisory position, removing her from any advisory role to Congress. Pallante resigned instead.

Artists say the Librarian, who recently took office, is too closely tied with supporters of free internet content, such as Google. And they say Pallante’s ouster came because she is a strong backer of artists’ copyrights and due compensation.

Some lawmakers are wary about the circumstances of Pallante’s departure and suggest a change might require legislative remedy.