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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Filed Under: big tech, copyright, fair use, maria pallante, publishing, user rights
Companies: aap, association of american publishers


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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 1:38pm

    Chief Publishing Lobbyist Maria Pallante Claims Copyright Is 'Under Assault'

    Good.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 2:34pm

    Pallante is reminiscent of an armed robber complaining about being violently assaulted if security guards shoot back when they open fire.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Melvin Chudwaters, 8 Jun 2021 @ 2:46pm

    Oh noes, our anti-human always-abused copyprivileges are under assault! Let's burn down another movie vault or dump film reels in the river because we can't be arsed to afford the storage fees!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 3:05pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dave, 8 Jun 2021 @ 3:23pm

    Copyright ought to be under assault.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 3:24pm

    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!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 3:41pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Koby (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 3:45pm

    Can't Do Without

    That Stone's books can be bought on Amazon is at least a partial rebuttal of all the "big tech" complaining, but I digress.

    Either that, or a realization that there's a near monopoly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 3:56pm

      Re: Can't Do Without

      That's a nice thought, Koby, but not quite:

      1. Powell's
      2. Strand
      3. Barnes & Noble

      All this off the top of my head. I could think of more, such as ebay, if I cared or had time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Samuel Abram (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 3:58pm

        Re: Re: Can't Do Without

        Oh, and for the record, I absolutely hate Amazon and I only browse their web site to pick up the books I want to buy at my local independent book store.

        But as much as I loathe Amazon's market power, I do have options as a consumer.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 5:42pm

          Re: Re: Re: Can't Do Without

          What’s really gonna blow his mind later. Is when he learns there’s a taxpayer funded place right in his city that will loan him as many books as he can carry, free of charge, and it’s totally legal.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 5:44pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Can't Do Without

            which explains so many of his brainless comments (though this one was not too bad)

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 5:51pm

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

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Jun 2021 @ 6:55am

              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.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike Masnick (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 9:39pm

        Re: Re: Can't Do Without

        There are so many sources of books these days. I've been making use of Thriftbooks and BookFinder quite a lot to find much better deals on books than from Amazon...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Samuel Abram (profile), 9 Jun 2021 @ 4:39am

          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!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2021 @ 5:13am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2021 @ 3:57am

      Re: Can't Do Without

      Or a realization that you are full of shit, like always.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 4:06pm

    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."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 5:43pm

    “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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 5:49pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 8 Jun 2021 @ 7:26pm

    Could you imagine if Maria Pallante actually believed the shit she is spouting? She would be, I hate to use the word, stupid. Just plain old fucking dumb.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 7:56pm

    In the same way as there's a war on Christmas.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Matteste, 9 Jun 2021 @ 12:04am

    "There are actors that seek to weaken your legal protections in order to advance their business interests"

    Whoa golly, stop right there. These hypocrisy meters aren't cheap you know. Can't have you go around overloading them around every corner.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 9 Jun 2021 @ 1:42am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2021 @ 9:44am

    I wish it was under assault.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bobob, 9 Jun 2021 @ 12:34pm

    The only problem is that the "assault" against copyright is nowhere near the magnitude of the assault that copyright should be facing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 10 Jun 2021 @ 5:53pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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