[By Tom Kennedy, ASMP Executive Director]
The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) is saddened by the removal of Maria Pallante as Register of Copyrights and Director of the United States Copyright Office by the new Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden. During her tenure at the Copyright Office, Register Pallante was an outstanding public servant who was dedicated to the proper and fair operation of our constitutionally-based copyright system.
Among other things, ASMP applauds Pallante for the critical role she played in advising the House Judiciary Committee during its multi-year review of the Copyright Act, her commitment to ensuring that the Office is equipped to address the myriad complex challenges posed by the digital revolution, and her sensitivity to the importance to small creators of a strong copyright law as evinced in part by her strong and unwavering support for the creation of a small claims copyright tribunal.
While we are disappointed and concerned by Pallante’s departure, we are comforted by the appointment of Karyn Temple Claggett as acting Register. Ms. Temple Claggett was an essential and highly regarded member of Pallante’s team and it is reassuring that someone of her great competence and experience will lead the Office during this period of transition.
With Pallante’s departure, attention must be focused not only on the selection of a new Register, but a review of the statutory provisions governing the process itself It now falls upon the Librarian of Congress–in close consultation with the House and Senate Judiciary Committees–to move forward in the selection of a new Register. At the same time, we strongly urge Congress, at its earliest opportunity, to take up proposals to make the Register a presidential appointee confirmed by the Senate and provide that position with the stature and independence it deserves.
Finally, from ASMP’s perspective, it is of the utmost importance that the Librarian’s removal of Pallante neither detracts from the Copyright Office’s staunch support for the creation of a small claims tribunal nor disrupts the traditional role the Office has played under Ms. Pallante and her predecessors in providing expert advice to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees as the Committees grappled with complex and critical copyright issues.
 ASMP, which was founded in 1944, represents literally every genre of professional photography intended for commercial publication (as opposed to photographs intended for individual consumers). Our members provide editorial and commercial photographs in such diverse fields as advertising, food, fashion, fine arts, travel, natural history, photojournalism, and portraiture among others. They work in still photography and motion media forms and supply images to all major print publishers, broadcasting networks, and digital publishers across the world. Our members are small business people, who typically run one or two person studios.