Maria Pallante had signed the copyright for Chasing Mercury in spring of2016. At that time, she was the Register of Copyright and Director of the US Copyright office. I looked back at other certificates over the past few years—a book, a film, a film review—and found she had also signed those. Then I began to cry.
On Friday, October 21, 2016, a few months after she laid her pen to paper to make sure that Chasing Mercury would be forever mine, Maria Pallante wasunjustly removed from her position. She was a legendary proponent of authors’ rights—at a time when large tech companies cut back door deals with publishers to reproduce writers without our permission.
Edward Hasbruck of the book division of the National Writers Union wrote,”It was the first time the head of the Copyright Office had been removed in 119 years”. (see https://nwu.org/nwu-statement-on-the-firing-of-maria-pallante/.) Demoted to the role of an advisor and locked out of her computer, Maria dared be dignified enough to resign. She is a better woman than I could ever be—
It’s an old story. Coal miners, back in the day, would take caged canaries down in the dark with them. If carbon monoxide collected to high levels, the canaries would die before the gas killed the miners — an early warning signal. Maria Pallante refused to stay in her cage and die. He who shall not be named took a chair in the oval office a month later.
The battle between retrogressives and progressives is as old as time itself and playing out in our nation. Good money bets Maria Pallante will live to fight another day— but she may not have to do at the rate ignorance is gutting the civil service — her adversaries soon won’t be ableto find the light bulbs. Meanwhile, I’ll keep trying to write works that could be worthy of Maria Pallante’ssignature.