The publishing industry may be chafing over a number of Trump administration actions and policies, but at a BookExpo panel on Wednesday, a trio of “copyright heavyweights” agreed that when it comes to copyright policy, the publishing industry stands with the president.
“The Obama administration was not kind to copyright,” said Keith Kupferschmid, CEO of the Copyright Alliance, responding to a question from AP reporter Hillel Italie, who moderated the 45-minute session. “The Obama administration, and President Obama in particular, was somewhat enamored with Silicon Valley, and in particular one company in Silicon Valley: Google,” he said, characterizing Google as “enemy number one when it comes to copyright.”
But that’s now changed with the Trump administration, the panelists agreed. Although Kupferschmid conceded it was still “wait and see” and that there have not yet been any concrete changes to copyright law under Trump, he said “the whole environment has changed” in Washington. “I think we now have an even playing field,” he said.
Maria Pallante, CEO of the Association of American Publishers, agreed.
“I would say that so far we are very pleased with the access, and the interest we have with the Trump administration,” Pallante said. “We’ve been very pleased with the meetings, the process, and the kind of acceptance of the issues at face value,” she said, adding that in some ways “the pendulum is swinging back” toward publishers and away from the tech sector.
“The general public and lawmakers are now sort of worried about the things that authors and publishers are all worried about,” Pallante added, including that there is “too much control” in the hands of a few large tech companies.
Rounding out the panel, Authors Guild executive director Mary Rasenberger said it feels to her like “there’s a reset” in Washington, when it comes to copyright policy, and doubled down on Kupferschmid’s characterization of the Obama administration. “I think the Obama administration was an unusual time, because they were so enamored with Google. There were 250 people in the administration that came straight from Google,” she said, holding that Google’s alleged sway in the Obama administration was “very anti-copyright.”
The remarks came in a panel entitled “State of the Industry: Publishing and Copyright Policy,” which offered a broad look at the current copyright climate in Washington, rather than a more detailed look at current lawsuits or legislative efforts. Though the panelists cited reform of the copyright office as a priority, bemoaned the growing intrusion of courts into policy-making, and offered their strong support for a recently introduced bill that would create a copyright small claims court, they mostly focused on the overall environment.
“Good copyright policy is good public policy,” Pallante stressed in her opening remarks, “which recognizes that authors make the world a more thoughtful, informed and interesting place.” But copyright law is also good economic policy, she added. “The question today,” she said, is whether copyright law will remain “flexible enough to encourage innovation and new actors” yet “strong enough to protect the works of authorship central to its purpose."