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We've talked in the past about how unfortunate it is that the US Copyright Office seems almost entirely beholden to the legacy copyright players, rather than to the stated purpose of copyright law. That is, instead of looking at how copyright can lead to the maximum benefit for the public ("promoting the progress of science") it seems to focus on what will make the big legacy players -- the RIAA and MPAA -- happy. Part of this, of course, is the somewhat continuous revolving door between industry and the Copyright Office. Just a few months ago we wrote about how the Copyright Office's General Counsel, David Carson, had jumped ship to go join the IFPI (the international version of the RIAA).
Last night the news came out that the US Copyright Office had now named Karyn Temple Claggett as the Associate Register of Copyright and Director of Policy & International Affairs. While Temple Claggett has actually been at the Copyright Office for a little while as Senior Counsel for Policy and International Affairs, not too long ago she was a hotshot litigator for... the RIAA. In fact, an old bio of hers, from when she was at the RIAA (as VP, Litigation and Legal Affairs), notes that she was instrumental in their ever-present legal campaign against pretty much any innovative technology that comes along:
While at the RIAA, Ms. Temple-Claggett has worked on some of the most high-profile copyright cases brought by copyright owners in recent years, including the Supreme Court Grokster litigation, as well as litigation against LimeWire, XM Satellite Radio and Usenet.com
I'm sure she's a fine person and a good litigator, but it's difficult to think that she'll be anything but a pure maximalist in favor of expanding copyrights and copyright enforcement, and against any innovation that challenges the status quo. It's hard not to be cynical when you see this kind of revolving door. And, of course, it's always entirely one-sided. Could you imagine the Copyright Office naming a top EFF litigator as second in command? Exactly the point. How is it possible to take the Copyright Office seriously as an advocate for what's best for the public, when the connections there are to industries who lean heavily on keeping out innovation and promoting an old business model through aggressive litigation and regulation?
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