A New Register of Copyrights
Perhaps one of the more quaint job titles in the U.S. Federal government, the Register of Copyrights is not exactly descriptive of the duties involved. It's not about stamping books and other works submitted for registration. Instead, it's all about policy: studies, analysis and advice to Congress and providing technical expertise and assistance to various agencies in the Federal Government and other countries.
At the Patent and Trademark Depository Library conference this last April, our group was fortunate enough to meet with the US Patent and Trademark Office's liaison with the Copyright Office, Peter Vankevich, who is the head of the Copyright Information Section and an old friend of the PTDL conferences. We also got to meet with the then acting, and now newly appointed permanent, Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante. The consensus of our group was we were terrifically impressed with Ms. Pallante, who was able to clearly and sensibly articulate the differing policy interests involved in many of the complex copyright issues facing us, as librarians, as well as content producers and copyright registrants.
One topic of great interest was the recent rejection of the Google class action settlement, which Ms. Pallante and the Librarian of Congress earlier had commented upon to Congress (a copy of that letter is attached - it's also available in a link at the end of this post and elsewhere online). The Copyright Office's position on the settlement is very similar to the Judge's - that the settlement would have usurped Congress' domain of creating public policy through legislation. This position is, of course, consistent with the office's role as adviser to Congress.
The meeting left a strong impression on most of us. Copyright issues concern us all - as librarians here at NYPL, our readers who may be content producers and all of us as consumers of large amounts of copyrighted materials. Hers will be a challenging job advising Congress on finding the best balance between the rights of producers and consumers and workable solutions to the many challenges of the digital age. We wish Ms. Pallante the best in her new job!
Well, it's time to celebrate the Fourth of July. As this holiday is partly a time of nostalgia, I've attached a little item of NYPL nostalgia, a pamphlet entitled "Some Landmarks in Modern Science" (see our catalog listing). This pamphlet includes an annotated bibliography covering quite a few famous scientific works. It appears to be a "souvenir" catalog from a dinner meeting of a Citizens Advisory Committee at which these items, many of them quite rare, were on view. I note the guest of honor was Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer! Like honoring Brian Greene today, though probably a lot more controversial.
Enjoy the Holiday!