Consumer Interest Groups Ask Obama To Stop Appointing RIAA Lawyers

from the good-luck... dept

With the Obama administration appointing a whole bunch of copyright maximalists to various positions (despite an early indication that perhaps he recognized issues with copyright law), a bunch of public interest and consumer interest groups have gotten together to write a letter to Obama, asking him to recognize that he seems to be filling every open slot with a very heavily biased viewpoint which could do significant harm towards innovation. Some of the letter may be inspired by the rumored candidates for the IP Czar position -- all of whom also fall into the copyright maximalist camp. Though, the fact that it's taken Obama so long to appoint this position (upsetting the Senators who wrote the law requiring the position in the first place) suggests (at the very least) he isn't considering this to be a priority.

Still, the EFF also took the opportunity to point out that it seems likely that Obama violated copyright himself, in giving a gift of an iPod filled with music to the Queen of England. It's almost impossible to know whether or not copyright was violated, but that's exactly the problem. Of course, this is likely to be of little concern to the President -- which is itself another problem. Too many people, who have little familiarity with copyright law, simply assume that "copyright is good" and that "more copyright is better," leading to the false belief that those who have a history twisting copyright to their own advantage are the best positioned to speak on copyright policy. That's regulatory capture at its finest -- something the Obama administration had claimed it was trying to avoid. Obviously, there are more important things for Obama to be focused on, but relying so heavily on copyright maximalists who have benefited from distorting the purpose of copyright is quite troubling.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Rob R., Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 5:23am

    What the frack is the President of the United States doing appointing lawyers in civil matters? Is he the President or is he a civil attorney? Get your head out of your ass, Obama.

    I think it's hilarious that he himself may have violated copyright. That was the first thing I thought of when I heard about the gift. I hope he gets sued personally for that. I really do.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 5:27am

    Re:

    What was up with the Bush admin and the justice dept ?
    Talk about cranial posterior inversion.

     

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  3.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 5:27am

    Hate to say it

    As much as I hate to say it, and even though we can all guarantee they won't, I hope they sue him too. It would be a nice wake up call about copyright.

    He seriously needs to reconsider who he appoints to the rest of these positions. With as much into technology and sharing as my generation is, he can very easily destroy what was one of his biggest support groups if he lets the copyright nuts run loose. That whole image of change can very quickly be demolished, or simply be seen as a change for the worse. Stronger copyright, or stronger enforcement of it would look really really bad for him. Its moving in a backwards direction.
    The internet is here, and they need to deal with it and stop whining. Adapt or die bitches.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    some old guy, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 5:44am

    It's the wookie defense

    The entertainment industry has used the wookie defense (in a reverse defense, natch) to convince the president that the best way to get us out of our financial crisis is by exponentially increasing the revenue of the incumbent entertainment providers.

    How'd they do it? Easy, IT MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE!

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 6:14am

    Usually our legal system is adversarial. For example, there are prosecutors trying criminal cases and defense attorneys defending those charged. If you want to be fair and get different perspectives, you could hire someone from both sides.

    But that's not really true of copyright (and patent) law. All copyright lawyers are trained in the same pro-copyright dogma. They work in firms that follow and preach the same pro-copyright mantra. The more draconian law copyright is, the more work copyright lawyers get, so it's to their advantage to always push for more laws.

    Sure there are civil and criminal defense attorneys which concentrate on fighting copyright lawsuits, but they are few and far between. And by their very nature, they are considered outsiders by the copyright industry. Sort of like those wacko tax attorneys who promise that you'll never have to pay income taxes again. They're labeled as pro-piracy, communists, and as being un-American because they don't respect property rights.

    So of course the "sensible" thing to do is to hire from the mainstream, and that means hiring from the status quo, which means hiring a pro-copyright attorney.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Pete Austin, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 6:27am

    Both of them have diplomatic immunity

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 6:39am

    As much as you guys don't like it, there are a bunch of reasons why this isn't an issue:

    The most important is that the people in the justice department / AG's office are law and order people. The last thing you want is and AG that is either operating on his own belief system. The Bush administration, example, allowed a religious zealot (John Ashcroft) to run the show, which lead to witch hunts against groups that put forth ideas that didn't match with his super conservative christian faith. Heck, they were even having prayer meetings in federal offices.

    In the end, anyone who comes to work for the AG's office or as federal prosecutor needs to be law and order, and that does mean supporting existing laws, including copyright.

    If you want to change copyright, take your protests to the people who write the laws, not those selected to enforce them.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 6:58am

    Re:

    I hate to admit it, but Weird Harold actually has a valid point.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Luci, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 6:58am

    Re:

    This isn't about supporting existing laws. This is about pushing for new, more draconian measures. THAT is where the problem lies, but you seemed to have missed that point. We can work towards getting copyright fixed, where the AG cannot, but if the AG's office asks for a new law...?

     

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  10.  
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    Wilhelm Busch, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 7:02am

    Ho Humm

    So what,most know that to become president you have to sell your soul to the devil,so to speak,so why not the RIAA.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 7:05am

    The Bush administration, example, allowed a religious zealot (John Ashcroft) to run the show, which lead to witch hunts against groups that put forth ideas that didn't match with his super conservative christian faith. Heck, they were even having prayer meetings in federal offices.


    So how isn't this an issue? Even if we realize afterwards that it was a mistake, any damage done during that time can't really be reversed.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    hegemon13, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 7:22am

    Re: Re:

    Just because Bush was easily the worst and most dangerous U.S. president in a very long time, maybe ever, does not excuse Obama from being, so far, an ignorant, two-faced liar who has made no effort to keep the promises of increased transparency and reduced corruption.

     

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  13.  
    icon
    mike42 (profile), Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 7:41am

    Re: Re:

    Exactly. Religious Zealot or Copyright Zealot, neither of them have the general public interest in mind. The prosecutor can pick and choose what to prosecute, and spend inordinate amounts of time developing a case. A witch hunt for Tommy Chong or a witch hunt for the person who leaked Wolverine, there is no difference.

    Plus, this gives the copyright extremists influence over the entire administration. If you need a favor from the copyright maximalist who works next to you, you're more likely do do a favor in return.

    It's just not a good environment that they have created.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Gene, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 8:01am

    real sorry to have to ignore new Justice system

    These appointments were people who liked to sue people they knew were innocent. God forbid they now begin working for the justice system charging people they know are innocent. Before you know it, they will be hiring Directv attorney's. They have to be stopped suing and charging innocent people. When you are a juror, cast your vote against justice. When you are a witness, look the other way. It is the only way we can bring back a fair and responsible justice system who only sue and charge people where evidence exists.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Rob R., Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 8:20am

    Re: idiots

    Love how all you Democrats do nothing but claim Bush is the worst president ever. So pathetic. Get lives.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Rob R., Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 8:21am

    Re: It's the wookie defense

    It is exactly the wookie defense. Well said!

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Rob R., Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 8:23am

    Re: Both of them have diplomatic immunity

    The Queen does, but Obama does not. He got the iPod and put the music on it (or had someone do it at his behest) while living as a citizen of the US in the US. Sorry, but he's not immune.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Francis Burdett, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 8:47am

    Re: Ashcroft

    "The Bush administration, example, allowed a religious zealot (John Ashcroft) to run the show, which lead to witch hunts against groups that put forth ideas that didn't match with his super conservative christian faith"


    Mr Harold, as much as one might find AG Ashcroft objectionable in theory, what are some concrete examples of the witch-hunts of which you speak?


    "Heck, they were even having prayer meetings in federal offices." As long as these were not forced upon DOJ employees or in some way impeded the work of DOJ employees how is this remarkable?

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 8:54am

    Re: Re:

    Luci, they don't write or pass the laws - the house and senate do that and the president signs or doesn't.

    The question isn't NEW laws, it is the application of current laws on the books. Do you have an indication of the current copyright laws that you fear will suddenly get used in more draconian ways?

    Even if the AG asks for 101 new laws, those laws still must be written, reviewed, and passed by the three levels of government. The US isn't a dictatorship.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 9:21am

    Re: Re: idiots

    Didn't you know? Obama is a two faced lying POS, and it's all Bush's fault. Because, you know, everything is Bush's fault. I mean, anyone that can make a large hurricane form and hit New Orleans, and magically stop the people from evacuating or accepting federal help is at the root of all problems evar.

    Obama is gayer than AIDS.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 9:36am

    Re:

    Although I'm not a member of a religious group that believes in group worship, I have no problems with using public space to hold prayer meetings. It's space. Use it.

    Were they blocking other people from using that valuable space during that time? Were there requests from other religious groups to use that space that were denied?

    There was a religious homeschooling group that met in the library office last night, a new school group met in the City Council Chambers last week, and we have a local medieval reenactment groups that trains people in the use of modified medieval weapons in a middle school gym on Tuesdays. What's the difference?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    The infamous Joe, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re: Re: idiots

    Didn't you know? Obama is a two faced lying POS, and it's all Bush's fault.

    I don't think it matters whose fault it is, only how we're going to get out of this mess. You can blame it on me for all I care if it will stop the blame game and get people to start working on the problem.

    Obama is gayer than AIDS.

    You say it like being gay is bad.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anon, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 10:23am

    Re: Re: idiots

    "Love how all you Democrats do nothing but claim Bush is the worst president ever."

    Did Hegemon13 "do nothing" but bash Bush? He only wrote three lines...but your reading skills didn't detect the parts where he bashed both Bush AND Obama?

    Love how YOU distort what he said because of your biased political view. So pathetic. Get a life.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Easily Amused, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 10:26am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No- they don't write the laws.

    But (and it's a stonking huge but), they do manage the resources given them to prosecute cases. If the AG's office is handed 400 cases to work, and only has the resources to fully prosecute 200, they must prioritize some over others. I would prefer that the guys making those decisions not have serious financial ties to the people involved in the cases. The current round of RIAA crony lawyers that have been given Fed jobs have already proven that they still represent the cause they were paid to fight for. The worst of these (that we know of so far) is the brief filed in the Tenenbaum case by a Fed that used to be a lead counsel for one of the plaintiffs.

    Also, while it's all well and good to say that their personal motivations don't apply because they are officers of the law, here in the real world personal biases are very relevant to the way the law is selectively applied and pursued. Janet Reno failed to keep her political opinions out of her business practices, while John Ashcroft failed to keep his nutty religious views from making him a public spectacle of bad judgment.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 10:47am

    Mr. VonLohmann (sp?) is clearly trying to fan the flames for "rants" by mere conjecture without the slightest bit of relevant information being offered. Nothing more than trying to create a "problem" out of thin air...

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Relonar, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 11:14am

    Re: Re:

    Although people have accused him of coming off a bit trollish sometimes, he usually does have accurate points. He brings a sense of realism to the table that is not always seen in the same perspective as the other commenters here. Yet it is not mindless mud slinging either and brings a much more in depth discussion of where the problems might actually be at.

    Weird Harold you have earned my respect.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Why would you allow Weird Harold, a Canadian, speak to US legal, law formation, and US legal appointment process? It's quite obvious he works for some company who would be a benefactor of RIAA lawyers being in positions of power.

    While he earns your respect, He earns something of mine too-- A bottle of Scorn.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 11:51am

    Re: Re:

    If I am not of that faith, or I am not religious, do I end up forced to take part just so that I keep up with my coworkers on the job? Will the selection process of who gets promoted be based not on the job but the fact that they share the same god? Should I be uncomfortable to go to work because I am excluded because I am not a christian, but a muslim, or a jew, or agnostic?

    These were prayer meetings run by Ashcroft himself. The boss.

    If you can't see how that is bad, well...

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: idiots

    That was sarcasm, Obama is a lying two faced POS, it obviously has nothing to do with Bush. I was just pointing out how the Obama apologists immediately retort any Obama criticism with "well Bush this and Bush that".

    Being gay is bad you freak.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    WH is the biggest fucking tool on the face of the planet. The only people that come close to him on that are his fellow canadian tools. Go fuck a moose WH.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Careful, you're letting your hatred and bigotry to shine through WH. Better reign it back in. Besides, you don't even live in the USA, where do you get off criticizing anything that happens there?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    First off,
    those laws still must be written, reviewed, and passed by the three levels of government. The US isn't a dictatorship.
    No, the judicial branch has absolutely nothing to do with writing laws. They interpret them.

    Main point:
    Do you have an indication of the current copyright laws that you fear will suddenly get used in more draconian ways?
    The justice department went out of their way to write an amicus brief or whatever its called, something to submit to a court case to say that they feel that 150K PER SONG was reasonable.
    Are you telling me that they aren't biased about this?
    That is fucking ridiculous man. You buy a song for 1$. Max infringement value should be like .. 10$.
    That is still 10X the PRICE (not value) of what the person probably would not have bought in the first place (but is more likely to buy later).
    So PLEASE tell me why you think them taking their time to support such a gawd awful number is a reasonable use of their time and not biased. They are trying to encourage horrible laws.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 5:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "The justice department went out of their way to write an amicus brief or whatever its called, something to submit to a court case to say that they feel that 150K PER SONG was reasonable."

    Do not believe everything you read in blogs. The Justice Department did no such thing. It presented a brief, as is customary practice in cases challenging the constitutionality of a federal law, in support of the law. It specifically noted in its brief that it was expressing no opinion on the merits of either party's case.

    Read the brief and not a blog. The former is much more informative and helpful.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 8:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So PLEASE tell me why you think them taking their time to support such a gawd awful number is a reasonable use of their time and not biased. They are trying to encourage horrible laws.

    As mentioned, the AG and DoJ have the requirement to upload the law. The copyright rules are the laws of the land, and they are there to uphold them.

    You might help yourself by reading the brief in question (and you can ask one of your teachers for help if you have a problem with the hard words). http://pub.bna.com/eclr/03cv11661_032209.pdf

    Who knows? You might learn something.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2009 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Re: idiots

    Love how all you Democrats...

    Who said they were a Democrat? You sound like some kook who sees one under every rock or something.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2009 @ 3:37pm

    Re:

    The last thing you want is and AG that is either operating on his own belief system. The Bush administration, example, allowed a religious zealot (John Ashcroft) to run the show, which lead to witch hunts against groups that put forth ideas that didn't match with his super conservative christian faith.

    The last thing you want is and AG that is operating on his own belief system. We don't need a copyright zealot to run the show, which will lead to witch hunts against groups that put forth ideas that didn't match with his super zealous faith in copyright.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2009 @ 3:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The question isn't NEW laws, it is the application of current laws on the books. Do you have an indication of the current copyright laws that you fear will suddenly get used in more draconian ways?

    Even if the AG asks for 101 new laws, those laws still must be written, reviewed, and passed by the three levels of government. The US isn't a dictatorship.


    That all applied to Ashcroft too, didn't it? Nothing wrong there either, eh?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2009 @ 3:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    As mentioned, the AG and DoJ have the requirement to upload the law. The copyright rules are the laws of the land, and they are there to uphold them.

    Just like Ashcroft.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2009 @ 3:54pm

    Do as I say...

    Still, the EFF also took the opportunity to point out that it seems likely that Obama violated copyright himself, in giving a gift of an iPod filled with music to the Queen of England.


    "Do as I say, not as I do."

    That's Obama for you.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    TB, Apr 4th, 2009 @ 7:00pm

    excuse?

    A bunch of obamanuts want are trying to use it as an excuse, ie: it is ok if we trample on the consumer because look at what that EVIL Bush did. Kind of pathetic actually - they actually thought he would bring change. He has, but unfortunately for the US, it is "Chicago Machine" style change.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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