Obama Finally Appoints IP Czar... Puts It In The Wrong Department

from the of-course dept

In a move that surprises no one, the Obama administration finally got around to officially nominating Victoria Espinel to be the IP Czar, a position that was created out of thin air a year ago in the ProIP Act, though the position went entirely unfilled until now. Hollywood lobbyists have been pushing the administration to appoint someone ever since the spring, and VP Joe Biden had to come out and calm Hollywood execs and lawyers by promising them the "right person" would be appointed (meaning: not someone who is interested in copyright reform).

And yet... there was no appointment for so long. Why? Well, a few weeks ago, it was explained that there was a fight over where to put the position and under what group Espinel's office would exist. The most obvious group was the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The problem? Most of the folks in OSTP actually seem to understand the problems of copyright law. They're fans of openness and understand things like Creative Commons. Entertainment industry lobbyists started to freak out again, that even if they got someone on "their side," that placing them in OSTP would stifle them, as the rest of the group might (gasp!) actually push back on attempts to stretch copyright enforcement towards the maximalist position. Instead, they wanted the position to be either its own office (entirely unlikely) or, in the Office of Management & Budget. Why OMB? No good reason. The position doesn't fit there at all... but putting it there keeps it away from those darn "copyleftists" in OSTP.

So where did the position end up? Yup... it's a part of OMB, just like Hollywood wanted. Lobbyists on all sides of the equation -- including consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, though, are saying that Espinel is a good appointee. I certainly hope so, though I disagree that the position should exist at all. Also, Espinel was formerly the IP boss for the US Trade Representative -- a group that has been known to push for more draconian IP laws, and to do so cloaked in secrecy. So... I'm hoping to be surprised, but putting the office in OMB and having someone from USTR isn't encouraging.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2009 @ 5:02pm

    Can we just let California go off and become it's own country?

    Due to the incredible forward thinking of California as applied to governance- with their budget deficits, IOU programs, The Enron/Edison Electric snafu, and even the more recent state's stance on selling stuff on eBay, I think again, we need to question how unsustainable the whole lot of governance ideas that come from California are.

    Victoria seems to be one of these talking heads, and I have a hard time believing that Victoria is anything less than that. I mean, as an Assistant to the USTR for Intellectual Property and Innovation, and to not have something as "innovative" as a wikipedia page, really shows lack of innovation.

    Who appoints these people? Oh yes, the country of California.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2009 @ 5:21pm

    In one of the linked articles, it says she needs to be confirmed by the Senate.

    What do we *really* know about her? I want to call my representatives.

     

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  3.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 25th, 2009 @ 5:23pm

    Re:

    In one of the linked articles, it says she needs to be confirmed by the Senate.

    Yeah, but from what I've heard, it's almost certainly a sure thing.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2009 @ 6:35pm

    Re:

    "In one of the linked articles, it says she needs to be confirmed by the Senate."

    Sounds like a formality.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2009 @ 6:36pm

    Re: Re:

    In fact, the lobbyists getting the government to vote for laws that benefit rich and powerful corporations at the expense of the general public is a formality. Whatever rich and powerful corporations want they get, they have to go through congress but that's just a formality.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2009 @ 6:43pm

    Even if she is a good point the point is that this Czar isn't going to go away even when this specific person is gone. The next Czar will probably turn out to be a tyrant that destroys the country like every other federal agent so far has.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2009 @ 6:46pm

    Re:

    err/even if she is a good pick

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2009 @ 7:37pm

    How about we instill a "Czar of Representative Opinion"

    We keep creating "Czar" positions, yet I have a problem trying to find where they were chartered in the Constitution or Bill of Rights.

    So while we continue to create these "Czars", which apparently have a tremendous amount of power, why not create a Czar of Representative Opinion? Because as time goes on, and the idea of representative government is watered down with lobbists-turned-czars, we must face the facts. This is a Czar we need.

     

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  9.  
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    GJ (profile), Sep 25th, 2009 @ 9:24pm

    Re: How about we instill a "Czar of Representative Opinion"

    There's a way to handle czars. Look up 1917 Russia.

     

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  10.  
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    Richard (profile), Sep 26th, 2009 @ 2:25am

    Re: How to handle these Czars

    A title closely related to Shah, Kaiser etc - they all seem to end up the same way.....

     

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  11.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Sep 26th, 2009 @ 7:08am

    Re: Re: How about we instill a "Czar of Representative Opinion"

    I've always found it extremely odd that the title "Czar" is so readily accepted for these U.S. government positions

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2009 @ 7:23am

    Thumb drives currently hold 128 gigs of data and it wont be long before those will be sold at Walgreen's for 10 bucks each. Eventually they or a similar technology will hold terrabytes. Every movie, series, song, and book you would ever want on a pendant that fits on a keychain or possibly in your wallet. We know it, they wont accept it...and nothing can possibly stop it. So they can dedicate their time trying to figure out an unbeatable DRM, how to try to make people fear for their lives from fines or jail time, but the fact is that if they cant keep people from putting meth labs in their basements they sure as heck wont be able to do anything about this without creating such an invasive big brother society that Americans wont stand for it.

    I also dont know why the left has always had a problem with executive pay, but has never had an issue with big hollywood pay?

     

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    Mockingbird (profile), Sep 26th, 2009 @ 8:59am

    Appointing Espinel to the post of IPEC ("IP Tsar") and placing the IPEC in OMB are not, in and of themselves, alarming acts. The IPEC's role, read narrowly, deals mainly with enforcement of existing laws and international agreements. The OMB and the office of the USTR are explicitly required by law to be part of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Advisory Committee which the IPEC heads. Considered from this narrow perspective, Appointing Espinel to the post and placing the IPEC in OMB are reasonable moves.

    But "this narrow perspective" is not the only way to look at things. One of the IPEC's duties is to "make recommendations, if any and as appropriate, to Congress for improvements in Federal intellectual property laws and enforcement efforts." A broad perspective could make the IPEC's work part of a comprehensive policy of copyright reform. But we learn from the CNET interview with Aneesh Chopra that copyright reform is simply not a priority for President Obama. Seen in this light, placing the IPEC in OMB can be taken as part of a comprehensive policy not to rock the boat where copyright is concerned. The clear conclusion to draw is that we copyfighters frankly have much much more work to do if we want to get our concerns assigned higher priority in the halls of power.

     

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    jlaprise (profile), Sep 26th, 2009 @ 1:03pm

    OMB is a good place for the IP Czar. It is very difficult to influence and works closely with the White House. Hollywood may have wanted it there, but I don't know why.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2009 @ 3:04pm

    Re:

    Agreed. OMB is more influential than OSTP and is involved in decision making across the board. It's preferable to OSTP (and IP is about more than just technology and science).

     

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    Fred McTaker (profile), Sep 28th, 2009 @ 12:54am

    Started with Clinton

    Most of the reasons people complain about the Obama Administration and Democrats more generally are pure B.S., based more on [sub]conscious racism than any sane reading of the facts; but this is one area where even I have a problem with current Whitehouse policy. They are continuing the long and false premise of the [Bill] Clinton Whitehouse, that somehow the USA can't advance on economic and structural superiority alone, and thus they have to browbeat foreign nations into accepting and paying for false Idea Properties, in unequal (in the USA's favor) exchange for real [scarce] goods and services. The funny thing is, the world is already kicking our collective asses in terms of IP claim rates. If they wanted to make "Fair Trade" international economics into a game of exchanging made-up properties for real ones, they already lost that game.

    Basically, they see the fallacy of "Fair Trade" as it currently exists, and seek to fix it by forcing China and other backwards societies to agree to cane all their street media vendors, on behalf of the good ol' US of A. I'm surprised we haven't heard any reports of A/V media pirates being waterboarded until they admit they love the DMCA, yet.

     

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  17.  
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    another mike (profile), Sep 28th, 2009 @ 5:00pm

    Re: Re: How to handle these Czars

    from the Roman "Caesar".
    They knew how to handle things. "Here Julius, hold this."

     

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  18.  
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    Malcolm Hume, Oct 3rd, 2009 @ 5:13pm

    Why on earth would copyright and trademark enforcement fall under science and technology? That makes no sense, IP is much broader than science and technology, only patent law might concievably fall under the experitse of the OSTP.

     

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


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