DOJ Gets Another Copyright Cop

from the not-looking-good dept

Among the tech community, there was some belief that the Obama administration understood some of the key issues, such as the damage done by draconian copyright laws -- and they had shown that with the way they went about running their campaign. However, there's an increasing realization that the techies on the campaign are entirely separate from the policy people now involved in the administration. First there was the appointment of one of the RIAA's top lawyers as associate attorney general, and now comes news that Neil MacBride, the BSA's antipiracy enforcer, has also been appointed to a high level role in the Justice Department.

You may recall MacBride, because last year, right before the BSA released its usual entirely bogus stats on the impact of piracy, he was kind enough to call me and walk through why he stood by those numbers. In that post, you can see some of how MacBride approached these issues -- insisting that piracy represents a real loss, not a business model issue, and even suggesting that it's all a generational thing. This is somewhat worrisome, as I believe it's the wrong approach to understanding what an impact copyright issues have on business, society and culture. That two such individuals are now in high level positions in the Justice Department does not bode well at all for the idea that we may have more reasonable copyright policy and enforcement coming out of the Justice Department any time soon.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 11:35am

    Will the real Obama please stand up? Oh yea, he already has by appointing old line Dems to office. Now he is appointing industry reps to office. So much for the promised change.

     

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  2.  
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    aikanae, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 12:17pm

    How can they be so dim?

    There have been a lot of studies from academics - i.e. not industry shrills - that have shown loosening and reducing copyrights is good for innovation and the economy.

    How can he explain the numbers of people downloading? Or that current laws make average people doing average things, criminals. It does not make sense that the only ones doing it are "kids" when top albums are 30 years old and not available on the commercial market. My experience is that people don't want some of the new stuff, even for free. It's not current releases being targeted with downloading.

    Do people even have the civil right of disobedience anymore? Maybe that should be the framework this arguement is placed in because the numbers of people knowingly and willingly doing it - and don't believe the musician would get a significant cut - is large enough to consider the issue a protest.

    Smart people stopped buying major labels > 5 years ago when they came with computer damaging root kits. What are people supposed to do?

    The RIAA killed radio with pay for play. They want to do the same everywhere.

     

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  3.  
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    Rekrul, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 12:22pm

    Pretty soon, non-profit copyright infringement WILL be a criminal offense, most likely a felony.

     

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  4.  
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    Jujubean, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 12:39pm

    Re:

    > Pretty soon, non-profit copyright infringement WILL be a
    > criminal offense, most likely a felony.

    It already is a felony. I'm sure Techdirt has the stories in its archives about the guy given a felony jail sentence for making a cam of star wars and uploading it.

    Also the Pro-IP act I think it is called, gives government the job of going after the P2P crowd, putting you in jail, and seizing your computer.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 1:00pm

    Excuse my ignorance, but I have always believed that Congress, and not the DOJ, determines copyright policy.

     

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  6.  
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    TPBer, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 1:04pm

    Big Deal

    Another UNENFORCEMENT AGENCY. Like trying to catch all of the jaywalkers. Time for a new PROTOCOL.

     

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  7.  
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    kirillian (profile), Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 1:47pm

    Re:

    You're excused...just don't do it again!! JK

    I think, as Jujubean has mentioned already, the new Pro-IP act that has been put into law recently changes that...The point is that Congress and the Entertainment industries are attempting to place the responsibility of enforcement into the hands of the Department of Justice. You are right in that it NEVER belongs there, but the push for it was very strong and it almost succeeded...as it is, I believe that the portions of the Act to do so were removed from the Act just before it was placed into law (someone correct me?).

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re:

    The DOJ was miffed (and with good reason) at a provision that would have directed it to bring civil actions against alleged infringers. This provision was promptly removed from the legislation.

     

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  9.  
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    Spade, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 4:03pm

    Anyone who's genuinely surprised by this should have their heads examined. Or are all Obama supporters blind to the presence of Joe Biden – staunch supporter of the RIAA and their ilk – at Obama's side?

     

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  10.  
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    Mike (profile), Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 4:11pm

    Re:

    Excuse my ignorance, but I have always believed that Congress, and not the DOJ, determines copyright policy.

    Not ignorance, of course -- and you knew that -- hence the snideness about "ignorance." However, the point is that the DOJ *does* have an impact on both policy and enforcement. No, they do not determine the policy, but to say that they are entirely independent of policy (and ignoring the enforcement side, in which they have a fair amount of leeway) *is* ignorant -- and I know you are not ignorant.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 5:09pm

    Yes, but maybe Obama sees some good still in them and can turn them away from the darkside.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2009 @ 7:44pm

    Re: Re:

    I am not trying to suggest that the DOJ or any other executive agency is independent of policy influence, but in the matter of copyright it has the influence of a gnat in a hurricane. The heavy hitter in the executive branch is the Department of Commerce. I would have said "hitters" to include the Copyright Office, but I will be darned if I can figure out where it stands in the grand scheme of things. Is it an executive agency or is it a part of the legislative branch? In all honesty, I do not know.

     

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  13.  
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    Sean Larabee, Jan 24th, 2009 @ 11:40am

    Obama Ethics Order

    If these 2 men engage in shaping policy and/or enforcement of Pro-IP law at the DOJ would that not violate the Obama Ethics Executive order or at least the spirit of the order? Or is the DOJ exempt from the order? Looking for a little input here, what do you think?

     

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  14.  
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    Lloyd Shugart, Jan 28th, 2009 @ 10:51am

    "Piracy" "Labor Laws" "Society" "Anarchy"

    How many of you open pirates, would not complain if your employer refused to give you your paycheck on Friday?


    At the end of the day you still have all of your physical parts of being, the only thing you're missing is some of your personal time. Wait, I understand you have a right by law to be paid for your time.


    "Ip Law" is just the exact same as "Labor Law" it is an "a right to intangibles" to be paid for your time.


    It is based on moral and ethical rights of person, and a need of society. We all recognize that law and statute fulfill the need, for society to derive an outcome that befits society.


    Laws are enacted at a rate of need to protect society. We all pay higher prices everyday at "bricks and mortar" because of "shoplifting", at the credit markets because of "identity theft".........any business that doesn't pass this loss along to the ultimate consumer will soon be out of business. This doesn't even count the cost all of us pay in judicial cost of enforcement of the laws and housing the inmates, each and everyone of us pay.


    With out laws, ethics, morals, we wouldn't have a society that functions, we would have Anarchy = a world in which no one would choose to live in.


    History confirms all that I have said..."Society of RobinHood" even they had a moral standard. The "Wild Wild West" anarchy was overcome by the rule of law and society prospered, before the rule of law those who lacked morals and ethics prospered to the detriment of society.


    Society = we the people.

     

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