Hayden to Pallante: Go Sell T-shirts.
The tired advice used by the anti-copyright-industrial-know-nothing complex is that musicians should not worry about the unlicensed uses of their works and “you know, just go on the road and sell more t-shirts.” This “brilliant new business model” pedaled by the digital know-nothings is actually something musicians have been doing since the early 1970s. It’s become such a cliche that musicians have taken using it as a joke. For example last time I went to SXSW a panelist was complaining that digital music services weren’t profitable because of “high royalties paid to musicians.” Someone in the back of the room shouted “Tour! Sell more T-shirts!” There was much snickering. Nevermind that the company in question will pay 140 million dollars in stock compensation to senior executives in 2016. So selling T-shirts, merch and swag is the most cliche of all bad tech advice. It’s the music tech conference equivalent of drunkenly shouting “freebird” at a concert.
So check out this unbelievable bit of arrogance from the new Librarian of Congress Dr Carla Hayden. She reassigned the US Register of Copyrights to a position called “Senior Advisor to the Librarian of Congress” but in the description of her new job, it appears one of her main new duties is -wait for it- LOC retail and licensing! As in swag, merch and “point of sale.” Yes, that point of sale part would be the US Library of Congress Gift Shop. The most powerful copyright official in the world was “reassigned” to run a gift shop. Pallante didn’t quit. She was forced out by what can only be described as the US Government’s most condescending and arrogant public servant. And that in and of itself is quite a feat. By any objective measure Hayden is off to a terrible start.
Here is an excerpt from the reassignment letter from Dr. Hayden describing Pallante’s new duties: