Chief Publishing Lobbyist Maria Pallante Claims Copyright Is 'Under Assault' At Annual Meeting

from the unfortunately not dept

The Association of American Publishers, like most industry lobbying groups, has a reputation for jealously guarding industry profit-making, no matter the larger implications of their doing so. In the past, the AAP has advocated for secret copyright treaties designed specifically to protect the publishing industry, getting Google to make its Google Library project far less useful, and has sued the Internet Archive’s digital library program in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Again, the AAP is a lobbying group and we should expect them in some respects to behave like one, but it’s important to tease out what they’re lobbying for and against and whether its interests are shared with the interests of the general public. Spoiler alert: they absolutely are not.

So, when the AAP held its recent annual meeting and devoted a portion of this 90-minute affair to the importance of copyright, that would typically be met with something of a yawn and a hand-wave. And when it got several mediocre persons to also speak at that meeting in part to rail against the omni-present threat of “big tech”, well, most of us probably just kept yawning.

As part of their remarks, Brian Napack, AAP chair and CEO of John Wiley, and Maria Pallante, CEO of AAP, made clear that protecting copyright remains the top priority for the association.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar voiced her concerns over the power of Big Tech in accepting the AAP’s 2021 Award for Distinguished Public Service. Keynote speaker Don Lemon (CNN host and author of This Is the Fire), urged publishers to publish more authors of color, while closing keynoter Brad Stone focused his remarks on Amazon, the subject of two of his books, The Everything Store and the recently released Amazon Unbound.

If Senator Klobuchar wants to join the likes of Donald Trump in complaining vaguely about “big tech”, well, I guess I’ll just have to somehow manage to keep my eyes dry. The inclusion of divisive cable news commentators is certainly a choice to be made, I suppose, as is the inclusion of a biographer for Amazon and Jeff Bezos who isn’t always super kind to the company or its leader. That Stone’s books can be bought on Amazon is at least a partial rebuttal of all the “big tech” complaining, but I digress.

Instead, what is most notable from this annual meeting is the CEO of the AAP, Maria Pallante, proclaiming to the audience that the association would do everything possible to beat back the “assault” in progress on America’s copyright laws.

To make sure that publishing remains a good business to be in, AAP’s job, Pallante said, “is to ensure that you can compete fairly in the modern marketplace.” Regrettably, she continued, “there are actors who seek to weaken your legal protections in order to advance their business interests, whether that interest is in bloating the fair use doctrine to illogical boundaries or, more blatantly, appropriating and monetizing your works without permission.”

In Pallante’s view, the exclusive rights delineated in the Copyright Act are under assault, as is an effective enforcement framework, and she said the DMCA, which governs how infringing content on websites can be taken down, “is badly in need of updating.” She also lamented the lack of a competitive marketplace in which authors’ works can be discovered and publishers can compete “without unfair control or manipulation from dominant tech giants.”

Think about the claims in that statement. “There are actors that seek to weaken your legal protections in order to advance their business interests” is a hell of a take from the CEO of a lobbying group that literally does that exact thing to the public. More copyright laws that strip away the public’s rights, stricter enforcement with less legal protections for the accused among the public, diminishing the role of fair use: literally all of these things Pallante is advocating for are well-described as an actor seeking to weaken your legal protections to advance its business interests. Pallante is literally the villain she’s complaining about.

As for copyright being “under assault”, well, I can only assume it’s under assault in the same fashion that I’m constantly told that Christmas is under assault, by which I mean it only expands, becomes more arduous and annoying, is omni-present, and is tied strictly to commercial interests.

Pallante goes on to suggest that the AAP’s lawsuit against the Internet Archive’s library platform had better be victorious… or else basically all copyright protections go away.

In a final point about copyright, Pallante said that the lawsuit the association filed a year ago against the Internet Archive for copying 1.3 million scans of books is still in discovery, but said the IA’s activities “are well outside the boundaries of both the law and copyright commerce, and ultimately pose an existential threat to the copyright framework on which authors and publishers rely.”

If you can read that and not burst out laughing, you have a stronger constitution than I do.

Now, if Pallante’s name sounds at all familiar to you, it’s because she previously ran America’s Copyright Office. Now, I will say this much: I will happily take Pallante’s doomsday for copyright claims more seriously than I have in this post if she can tell me what happened to the $11 million that the Copyright Office, under her leadership, managed to spend on a computer system that never materialized, was supposed to cost a tenth of that spend, and was the subject of several lies in the Copyright Office’s reports to Congress.

Otherwise, I’ll just note that copyright law in this country is so laughably bloated that it deserves an assault, but isn’t actually on the receiving end of one.

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Companies: aap, association of american publishers

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Comments on “Chief Publishing Lobbyist Maria Pallante Claims Copyright Is 'Under Assault' At Annual Meeting”

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35 Comments
That One Guysays:

That's handy, the micro-violin is still out

How terrible, the anti-public and anti-creator law is under ‘assault’, by which I can only assume that they mean it might possibly maybe be scaled back for once so that it actually serves the public as it was supposed to because while that’s not likely it’s still vastly more likely than any real ‘attack’ on copyright.

Truly copyright maximalists have it just so very hard these days.

Anonymoussays:

The far greater assault is on the rights of the public BY the publidhers and the rest of the Entertainment Industries! The problem id, until those rights have bern completely erroded, until yhe Constitution hss been completely eliminsted and until those industries have total, unfettered control of rverything, particularly the Internet, they eont be happy and we eont be safe!! Mark my words!!

Anonymoussays:

In a final point about copyright, Pallante said that the lawsuit the association filed a year ago against the Internet Archive for copying 1.3 million scans of books is still in discovery, but said the IA?s activities ?are well outside the boundaries of both the law and copyright commerce, and ultimately pose an existential threat to the copyright framework on which authors and publishers rely.?

If you can read that and not burst out laughing, you have a stronger constitution than I do.

Laughing? Personally, I’d be cheering if I believed that. But the IA is promulgating DRM via its actions, and I can’t accept that this helps copyright abolitionism. I have somewhat higher hopes for Library Genesis on that front.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re:

"Yeah, but that?s a socialist institution and Koby haet socialism."

Except whenever free speech is mentioned at which point Koby can’t wait to start shouting about seizing the means of production.

Because it just isn’t fair to the poor, thin-skinned maligned nazis and klansmen that people are allowed to throw them out of a bar or social platform just because those people own that bar or social platform.

The entitled snowflakes of the alt-right need that government protection, dammit.

Samuel Abramsays:

Re: Re: Re: Can't Do Without

I appreciate it, Mike, but I’ll still purchase or otherwise obtain paper books from my local independent book store (called Books Are Magic, in case you were wondering), eBooks if they are DRM-free from various sources (because they’re DRM-free), and audiobooks from libro.fm, downpour.com, or librivox. With all these options, I’m set!

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Can't Do Without

This isn’t an "alternative", but it turns out on certain topics, the authors have directly posted their works in html and/or pdf format.

And they did it without being blackmailed or threatend. (And they are frequently on technical topics, which makes them very useful/valuable).

As a side note: there’s a huge community for posting Japanese "webnovels" online. Which are entertainment, some of them are very good (I mean if that interests you).

Anyhow tons and tons of places where authors post their content without getting or even expecting any direct monetary reimbursement.

Copyright maximalists have not provided anything that looks like an answer to that to me.

Samuel Abramsays:

Translating Pallante's words

When Maria Pallante says:

"there are actors who seek to weaken your legal protections in order to advance their business interests, whether that interest is in bloating the fair use doctrine to illogical boundaries or, more blatantly, appropriating and monetizing your works without permission."

I hear

"Fuck our readers and fuck everybody who would like to make reading our works easier. Seriously, just fuck them and give me more money."

GHBsays:

Re: Translating Pallante's words

Agreed. They also exploit libraries:
https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20191108/23524343352/giant-publisher-macmillan-goes-to-war-against-libraries.shtml
https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120914/12211320384/hachette-hits-libraries-with-220-price-increase-its-ebooks.shtml

And they claim they ?love libraries?. A more honest speech right there is to add ?to exploit? between the two words. Like how EA exploits its players, especially the ones vulnerable to addiction, to get them to spend on ?surprise mechanics?.

If they can sue you, the reader, for giving a book to somebody else, they would.

That One Guysays:

Re: Re: Translating Pallante's words

If libraries had not already been a well established institution there is no way in hell they would have ever been allowed to be created in the modern day.

‘A place buys a book once and lets an endless stream of people read it without each and every one of them paying the purchase price again?! That is nothing less than theft, an assault on the very concept of authorship and the ability for authors to make a living!’

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Translating Pallante's words

That is nothing less than theft, an assault on the very concept of authorship and the ability for authors to make a living!’

Made by people in companies that advise authors to keep the day job, because they won’t be able to pay them much after they have applied Holywood accounting methods.

Anonymoussays:

?are well outside the boundaries of both the law and copyright commerce, and ultimately pose an existential threat to the copyright framework on which authors and publishers rely.?

I am reasonably certain she used words that are also in published books to say that. It’s almost like her very existence largely a violation of the copyright laws she imagines to exist.

Anonymoussays:

Copyright chose to have a scattershot approach to justice, suing individuals regardless of innocence or standards of proof, in order to fund highly visible and enriched celebrities for timespans lasting longer than the average human life.

Maybe copyright wouldn’t be "under assault" if its advocates hadn’t spent decades making themselves look like whopping big unlikeable targets.

ECAsays:

ideas?

"made clear that protecting copyright remains the top priority for the association."

Then protect it.
But you are trying to make more money then is based on CR. You want to make more money from what you have, and NOT from the Future of the market. IF you could you would still be getting royalties and payments for Books and publishing from the 1850’s or even farther back in history.
Strange that the Most popular book ever, is given away, mostly for free.

Wyrmsays:

Funny how she and us agree on two points.

  1. Our rights are being assaulted in relation to copyrights.
  2. The copyright system is badly in need of a reform.

We just don’t agree on the direction of the ongoing assault and needed reforms.

Also, she seems to think that their little schemes to get money for life + 70 years are more important than the innumerable assaults on several of our rights using copyright as a foundation. (Free speech, right to repair our own property, right to actually own property… and many more.)

The constitution defines copyright as a (optional) mean to incentivize the progress of science and culture. Giving money to someone (and his heirs) for longer than your own life is not an incentive. It’s bad enough that it brings everything to money, even when an "infringement" isn’t for commercial use. Worse yet when it can actually be used to prevent the spread of your work. Worst yet when it can be used to prevent the spread of completely unrelated work on the flimsy pretext of some vague "similarity", or misidentification by a bot.
All this while keeping in mind that, in many cases, the author is not even the one benefiting from the system.

So, she plays victim, like many republicans, bigots, racists, and other serial rights assaulters… or regular assaulters… in order to push politicians in the direction of more authoritarianism when she has no reasonable foundation for her demands. She has no fact to back her up, so she just whines publicly as loudly as she can. The bad news is… this shamelessness works often enough.

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