Well not really. But it might as well be Boaty McBoatface. Word on the street is the Librarian of Congress intends to use an online Survey Monkey poll to select the “attributes” of a new Register of Copyright. Perhaps one of the attributes of the new Register of Copyright should be he/she is named “Boaty McBoatface?” If you don’t know the Boaty McBoatface reference you have to read this article about the UK’s ill-fated attempt to allow the internet to name a new royal research ship. (Spoiler alert! The internet named it Boaty McBoatface!)
Using an online poll to select the “attributes” of the Register of Copyright is not just a bad idea, at the very least it likely violates US rules on federal agencies soliciting of public comments.
How does the librarian ensure that the poll won’t be robotically “comment bombed” by Fight For The Future (FFTF) an astroturf group run by Google operative Marvin Ammori? Cause that’s exactly what FFTF did when the Copyright Office used a web form to solicit comments on DMCA “takedown” reform earlier this year. EXACTLy 86,000 identical comments were filed by Fight for the Future. Read here and here:
How will the Librarian of Congress prevent multiple submissions even without the use of robots?
How will the Librarian of Congress verify that those making submissions are US citizens?
How do you keep it from getting hijacked by people with a sense of humor?
To illustrate this point here is our poll: