Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden today announced the appointment of Shira Perlmutter, a veteran policy expert at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as the 14th U.S. register of copyrights. Perlmutter will assume her role sometime in late October, at which time Maria Strong, who has served as acting register since January 2020, will return to her role as associate register of copyrights for policy and international affairs.
“Shira brings to this role a deep knowledge of domestic and international copyright law and policy and a background in negotiating international intellectual property agreements,” Hayden said in a statement announcing the appointment. “She has experience working with a wide range of stakeholders and finding common ground on complex issues.”
Hayden also praised Strong for her work as Acting Register. “I appreciate Maria for stepping into the role of acting Register and for providing excellent leadership to the U.S. Copyright Office,” Hayden said.
Perlmutter brings a wealth of experience to her new role. She has served since 2012 as the USPTO's chief policy officer and director for international affairs, working in all areas of intellectual property, including copyright. In her work, Perlmutter served as “lead author on significant Department of Commerce papers on copyright issues,” the Library of Congress press release notes, and she co-led the U.S. delegations that negotiated two copyright treaties at the World Intellectual Property Organization, including the Marrakesh Treaty and the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performance. Prior to her work in government, Perlmutter previously served as v-p and associate general counsel for intellectual property policy at Time Warner.
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead the U.S. Copyright Office during its 150th year,” Perlmutter said in a prepared comment. “I look forward to working with Dr. Hayden and rejoining the dedicated staff of the Copyright Office on its mission of promoting the creation and dissemination of works of authorship, to the benefit of the American public.”
Perlmutter replaces Karyn Temple, who announced her departure from the Copyright Office in December of 2019, just months after her permanent appointment, to become the global general counsel of the Motion Picture Association. Prior to her permanent appointment, Temple earned high marks for her work to modernize and upgrade the office while serving as register in an acting capacity since October of 2016, following Hayden’s abrupt and controversial removal of then-register Maria Pallante, who is now president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers.
In a statement, AAP president and CEO Maria Pallante praised Hayden's selection of Perlmutter. “As an exceptional copyright lawyer and government executive, Shira is immeasurably qualified to both lead the agency and guide the significant law and policy developments that are the Register’s statutory mandate," Pallante said. "Under Shira’s leadership, we look forward to the Copyright Office continuing its long history of open dialogue with the private sector, and its proud tradition of providing impartial service to the many members of Congress, government leaders, and international policymakers who depend on the Register and her team for expertise and advice."
Motion Picture Association Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin also praised the appointment. “We applaud Dr. Hayden on her selection," Rivkin said, adding that Perlmutter has demonstrated a "commitment to supporting the rights of creators for the ultimate public good."
The American Library Association (ALA) also approved of Hayden's selection. "Ms. Perlmutter’s work with the library community on the U.S. implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty demonstrated a commitment to improved access to information resources and reading materials for print disabled persons in the United States and around the world," said ALA President Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., in a statement. "As digital copyright policy and modernization of the Copyright Office are at a critical stage of formation, Ms. Perlmutter’s ability to collaborate with both users of information and rights holders has the potential to bring balance to the expanding ecosystem of creators, consumers and copyright holders.”