Congressional Hyperbole Used To Urge Bush To Accept A Copyright Czar

from the and-so-it-goes dept

We've already seen that the Bush administration has said that it really doesn't want the "Copyright Czar" that Congress has been trying to give the White House. However, as the bill sits on his desk to sign, it appears that plenty of folks are trying to pressure Bush into signing it (he has until Tuesday to veto or it automatically becomes law). We already noted that the US Chamber of Commerce was using totally ridiculous and made up numbers about job and dollar losses to get Bush to sign, and now it appears that various politicians are sending ridiculously hyperbolic letters to the White House to push for signing the bill as well (thanks to Jim Harper for alerting me to this).

Let's start with Senator George Voinovich, who actually claimed that signing this bill "would be a fitting achievement and legacy." Now, I don't care what you think of the present administration, but you'd have to be pretty disconnected from world events to think that adding a copyright czar will ever be considered a part of Bush's "legacy." Somehow, I would imagine that there is a long list of other things that will most likely be on his legacy list before anyone gets around to a totally unnecessary copyright czar.

Then there's Rep. Lamar Smith, who ran the intellectual property subcommittee in Congress before the Democrats and Howard Berman took over. However, Smith and Berman -- despite being on different sides of the aisle, have pretty much identical views on intellectual property, so it's no surprise that he would tell the President that signing this bill is "not merely desirable, but necessary." Necessary, huh? For what? That seems like a pretty strong claim without an iota of proof. That's because it's not "necessary" at all. In fact, about the only thing it's likely to do is to hold back the more innovative business models the economy needs by propping up one industry's obsolete business model.

Then we've got Senator Arlen Specter, who complains that vetoing this bill could lead to "fallout" with trading partners, concerning the equally awful ACTA treaty. That makes very little sense. Both this bill and ACTA were basically written by the same lobbyists, and both serve to do the same thing: prop up a broken and obsolete business model of the American entertainment industry. Vetoing the bill is unlikely to have any serious international ramifications, other than from countries tha might stand up for themselves and push back every time the US demands they strengthen IP laws just to protect a few American businesses who refuse to innovate.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 5:05pm

    Don't worry Bush is out; Obama is in and Obama will accept a Copywright czar as a payoff to Hollywood.

     

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  2.  
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    eleete, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 5:21pm

    Like it or not.

    I'm not so sure why this Congress and Administration are working in such grand unity to destroy our rights, but I expect that this too will be forced upon us(the Czar and ACTA). Big Industry is sure making out like bandits, especially with our freedoms and our money. Sad to them both end.

     

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  3.  
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    Bunny, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 12:40am

    Symbolism

    The presence of a Copyright Czar in the Kremlin, er... I mean the White House, seems outwardly like a purely symbolic move to support a specific special interest, one that has little to do with the day-to-day running of a national government.

    As it stands, in Presidential briefings critical matters are discussed, such as wars, economic turmoil, national mood, nuclear proliferation, natural disasters... life and death issues, right? So now someone is going to appear in the cabinet to distract and detour those important discussions with some B.S. about what appeared in youtube yesterday?

    Czar is too heady a name for this. Perhaps Cossack is more fitting for its purview? I can't wait to hear the press announcement:

    "and then Fiorina the Copyright Cossack piped up in the debate, noting that Copyrights are much more important to our future than energy independence, infrastructural improvements or such luxuries as breathable air, since energy and the like doesn't produce 50 hexa-tetra-quadro-trillion jobs like Copyright does (according to official figures from the RIAA lobbyist). She immediately unveiled a plan for product placement opportunities for speeches made from the Oval Office, saying that not only should there be a coke can on the desk, but its occupant should wear a Disney mouse-cap, wear a Gap T-shirt and use a Sony mike. Interspersed throughout the speech, the buying public should hear frequent mention of the latest film, even if the topic is nominally a foreign policy discussion. Fortunately, no brands of cigar were suggested."

     

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  4.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 2:23am

    In Other News...

    Not sure if you're heard about this before, but New Zealand looks set to be the only country in the world to bring in a law that says, if a customer is accused (no evidence necessary) of infringing copyright, then their ISP must cut them off.

     

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  5.  
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    NeoConBushSupporter, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 6:06am

    Re:

    Hollywood . . . ewwww, I hate them sooo much!

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    nasch, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 8:14am

    Not disconnected

    Voinovich is not necessarily disconnected from reality, I think it's more likely he's just bull****ing. That is, he doesn't care whether what he says is true or not, and if he forced himself to think about it (not likely) he would probably understand how far off base it really is. Read "On Bull****" or see if you can find the Daily Show interview with the author for more information on this topic. :-)

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Vake, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 11:04am

    I'm glad to see someone else who understands the evil that is intellectual property. In the absence of patents and copyrights, the prices of goods and service will come down while innovation flourishes.

     

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  8.  
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    It's not all big industry, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 4:02pm

    Re: Like it or not.

    Not every victim of copyright theft is some big record or film company. I have three employees and we were ranked in the top 20 most pirated at TPB a few years ago. Now, we're finding it hard to stay afloat. If my business goes bankrupt, I'm just one of thousands of businesses that have failed or already are starting to fail due to the governments complete abandonment of this sector of our economy. IP creators and publishers contribute more than $470 billion to the USA economy annually. Sure, the housing crash is bad but why should we also set fire to newspapers, books, music, films, software, video games and other forms of IP by declaring that the ability to make money from an idea is dead? Piracy is theft. I can get a police department to put you in jail for stealing twinkies from 7 Eleven, but I can get the DOJ to lift a finger if you're running a website that is giving away $11 million worth of product a month. Think about it folks. Would you like it if someone came to your driveway and stole your car and your phone calls were totally ignored at the local police department? Well, that's what exactly is happening right now to your fellow citizens and taxpayers. What's worse is that it's not the Chinese or the Russians that are stealing the most from our IP business. It's your ordinary American that on average is engaging in most of the world's online theft. Of course, perhaps we should continue to "deregulate" IP just like we have the financial markets. Are you prepared to buy a gun? Are you prepared for total Anarchy? At what point do you say no to crime? At what point do you look to your government to stop online sex crime with children? Right now, there are divisions of the DOJ that are so underfunded, they simply ignore huge amounts of cybercrime. Cybercrime is real crime. And at some point, our government will be painfully aware that they need to put as many patrol "cars" on the Internet as they do our roads and highways. Do not chasten the IP holder as being a whining fat cat rock star. We are the true thinkers, innovators and the drivers of America's intellectual security in the world. We're worth protecting.

     

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  9.  
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    Bunny, Oct 9th, 2008 @ 8:19pm

    Re: Re: Like it or not.

    It used to be that we would admire the stability of a facility such as Fort Knox, the idea that vast amounts of wealth would be stored as gold bars under conditions of very tight security, so that no thieves could possibly get at it. That's about as concrete and stable a storehouse of wealth as you can get. However, we weren't happy just to store it, we wanted greater rates of return, so we invested it to make more, and so we did. At one point, we built a manufacturing economy, and this certainly seemed to be a good move.

    But -- where do we store our wealth and pin our hopes now? Are we basing it on the wealth multiplying power of manufacturing plants? No, not any more. We gave those trade secrets away in exchange for an abstract concept known as "intellectual property" that doesn't really exist as such, it is simply the label we have decided to assign it out of a lack of in-depth understanding of what the nature of information truly is. It seems that people thought that a vague system of rules "firmly" attached to information could substitute for real, concrete, substantial wealth.

    Sorry to break it to you but it doesn't. Any wealth that can disappear with the snap of a finger was not wealth to begin with. It's a shaky foundation to build anything on. Fort Knox it isn't. Unlike a physical facility, enforcement is difficult and not always clear cut.

    And so you have based your entire business model around a commodity that isn't scarce. That's not wise for you, and it's not wise to base the rest of economy on some made-up convention that says that something is to be used and litigated as if it were property... but it isn't. It's just becoming clearer and clearer that the idea was poorly conceived to begin with, is too unquantifiable in terms of value, and the laws surrounding it are rife with controversy and litigation because there are no clear dividing lines where one person's rights end and another's begin.

    Now just because some idiots before us managed to popularize this unworkable concept doesn't mean we are going to ultimately be able to force it to succeed.

    It's tragic that so many people bought it, but trying to continue the irrational can only lead to more surprising times in the future.

     

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  10.  
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    Mike (profile), Oct 9th, 2008 @ 8:59pm

    Re: Re: Like it or not.

    Not every victim of copyright theft is some big record or film company.

    No one suggested otherwise. So why set up a strawman?

    I have three employees and we were ranked in the top 20 most pirated at TPB a few years ago. Now, we're finding it hard to stay afloat. If my business goes bankrupt, I'm just one of thousands of businesses that have failed or already are starting to fail due to the governments complete abandonment of this sector of our economy.

    No, you failed because you failed to recognize how the market was shifting and how to take advantage of it. Blaming it on the government is just finger pointing. Take some responsibility.

    IP creators and publishers contribute more than $470 billion to the USA economy annually.

    So? That's no reason for protectionist policies that shrink their potential.

    Sure, the housing crash is bad but why should we also set fire to newspapers, books, music, films, software, video games and other forms of IP by declaring that the ability to make money from an idea is dead?

    You must be new around here. No one is saying that the ability to make money from an idea is dead. We're just saying that you need to understand the new market and how to make money from those ideas. In fact, it's how you can make more money than before from those ideas.

    Piracy is theft.

    No, actually, it's not. It's infringement, and it may be illegal, but it's not theft. Theft involves you losing something. Infringement is someone making a copy, but you retain the original. Quite different. This debate is meaningless if you can't understand the difference. But, not understanding the difference is a good way for you to go out of business.

    I can get a police department to put you in jail for stealing twinkies from 7 Eleven, but I can get the DOJ to lift a finger if you're running a website that is giving away $11 million worth of product a month.

    Another false statement. TPB isn't "giving away $11 million worth of product." They are linking to others who are giving it away. Again, another important distinction. And you make it sound like that $11 million is lost. It's not. You just need to learn how to capture it.

    Think about it folks. Would you like it if someone came to your driveway and stole your car and your phone calls were totally ignored at the local police department?

    Actually, we have thought about it. For many years. And the scenario you describe is totally different, because that involves actual theft. When someone takes those things, you no longer have them. What if someone saw your car and made themselves an identical car. I would imagine that, indeed, the police would ignore your calls. What's so bad about someone else copying you?

    Well, that's what exactly is happening right now to your fellow citizens and taxpayers.

    No. It's not.

    What's worse is that it's not the Chinese or the Russians that are stealing the most from our IP business. It's your ordinary American that on average is engaging in most of the world's online theft.

    Again, it's not stealing. It's not theft. It may be infringement, but that's meaningless. You have plenty of opportunities to put in place business models that take advantage of what's happening. Others have, and they're thriving.

    The fact that you sit still and point fingers and blame everyone else is your fault.

    Of course, perhaps we should continue to "deregulate" IP just like we have the financial markets. Are you prepared to buy a gun? Are you prepared for total Anarchy? At what point do you say no to crime? At what point do you look to your government to stop online sex crime with children? Right now, there are divisions of the DOJ that are so underfunded, they simply ignore huge amounts of cybercrime. Cybercrime is real crime. And at some point, our government will be painfully aware that they need to put as many patrol "cars" on the Internet as they do our roads and highways.

    What does that have to do with anything? Now you're just ranting.

    We are the true thinkers, innovators and the drivers of America's intellectual security in the world.

    Then stop relying on the gov't to bail you out and start innovating. Others are. Your failure to is your own problem.

    We're worth protecting.

    Not if you're unwilling to change your model you're not.

    Get rid of your buggy whips, and notice the new automobile.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Justinruns, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 6:18am

    Stance

    I've been a reader of Techdirt for a while and it is always hard for me to tell if Techdirt supports democrats more or republicans more. In truth I just think they're usually pretty logical about most things so I would stamp them as libertarian... not sure though.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    hegemon13, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 9:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Like it or not.

    Stinging, yet accurate response. Thanks, Mike.

     

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