Now The Senate Wants To Add A Copyright Czar To The White House

from the business-model,-not-a-legal-issue dept

The House of Representatives passed the highly questionable Pro IP bill a few months ago. This bill, which would strengthen copyright law, just as many are realizing it should be headed in the other direction, would also establish a “Copyright Czar” position that would be part of the Executive Branch. Why we need a special Czar to prop up an obsolete business model has not been explained, beyond the usual propaganda from those who rely on that business model. It’s quite clear from all the companies we see who are succeeding by changing to new business models that don’t rely on copyright that this is a business model issue, not a legal one. But, Congress receives plenty of donations from Big Copyright, so it’s no surprise that we see laws protecting it.

The Senate has now weighed in with its version of the law. The bill was introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy, who has received plenty of campaign contributions from Big Copyright. His explanation of the bill is basically the talking points of the industry, showing that Senator Leahy is clearly out of touch with what’s really happening with copyright these days:

“The time has come to bolster the Federal effort to protect this most valuable and vulnerable property, to give law enforcement the resources and the tools it needs to combat piracy and counterfeiting, and to make sure that the many agencies that deal with intellectual property enforcement have the opportunity and the incentive to talk with each other, to coordinate their efforts, and to achieve the maximum effects for their efforts. This bill does just that.”

Except, of course, the only thing “vulnerable” is an unnecessary business model built on gov’t granted monopolies, and there’s no explanation why such a commercial issue can’t be dealt with by civil lawsuits, rather than criminal ones. As it stands, Leahy is basically making the Federal government the private police of a particular industry, granting it much more power than is reasonable or needed.

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Comments on “Now The Senate Wants To Add A Copyright Czar To The White House”

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eleete (user link) says:

Of, By and For the Corporations

The link to the contributions is clear evidence he is a shill for the big copyright moguls. When do we take back our country? When do we stop allowing people who work for us to introduce laws making us criminals. If the people want so badly to trade and god forbid Share our music, why are there no voices in our own government for that? If it would enrich everyone to have more in the public domain than less, why does our government support a monopolistic welfare system ? Why does a musician, or a cartoonist deserve financial reward for their entire life, and 70 years after death ? Why can’t we all live on that same welfare system ? Why are teachers so poorly paid ? Is their service not far more valuable to a human than a movie, a song, or a novel ? The United States is loosing touch with reality. Financially the IP system does not make sense, and in these economic times, it’s very telling who’s side Congress and The Senate are on, and clearly it is not the side of the people.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Of, By and For the Corporations

When do we take back our country?

as soon as you have the money to buy it back.

Why are teachers so poorly paid ? Is their service not far more valuable to a human than a movie, a song, or a novel ?

teaching and education have no value at all. if teaching was that important it would generate more revenue and teachers would be famous. schools and teachers don’t produce profits or celebrity, in fact all they do is cost money and generate controversy and lawsuits, so obviously they are unimportant.

Kiba (user link) says:

Good for Copyright Abolisionists and Anarchists

Now anarcho-capitalists and copyright abolitionists have even more justification for the abolishment of the state, along with copyright and patent law.

We just need to get a really good witch hunt going, chasing every “pirates” that they come across.

Then it will rile up the public, who are normally supportive of copyright laws, to start to oppose them. The anarchists will take this opportunity and help the public and make the public their most powerful allies.

Recipe for a revolution.

If you don’t believe that anarchy won’t work, see Somalia. Last time I check, they have the best telecommunication industry in Africa. Their educational system is still functioning. The private airline in Somalia is booming, etc.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Good for Copyright Abolisionists and Anarchists

Last I heard there were also some pretty bloody incididents in Somalia within the last few years here as well.

No, Anarchy is not the solution. It is a monolithic task, but bringing back the more traditional values of the Constitution would go a VERY long way in fixing this country.

Going to be fairly tricky to take power away from mega corporations though.

Kiba (user link) says:

Re: Re: Good for Copyright Abolisionists and Anarchists

Anarcho-capitalism is one of the many possible solutions that have merits. It is workable as both a legal institution and economic system. Look at medieval Iceland and the wild west as further examples.

It shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand just because you think anarchy mean chaos.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Good for Copyright Abolisionists and Anarchists

anarchy means chaos to pretty much everyone who hasn’t read a book on the subject. until there is a sitcom or a will smith movie on the subject, no one will read a book on the subject. maybe you can get oprah to recommend a book for her club?

i imagine that the word “anarchist” causes most people to think of guys with mohawks and safety pins in their noses talking about how the us faked the moon landing as part of a plot for the government to collect our body fluids.

“copyright abolitionist” probably conjures a similar image.

sure they are compelling concepts, but they require thought to understand. thought is the sworn enemy of corporations and governments.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Good for Copyright Abolisionists and Anarchists

AC from #5 here.

I don’t think Anarchy == Chaos. Truth be told, I love America and the idea behind it. I just think things have gotten confused and led astray somewhere along the way.

There are PLENTY of forms of government and economic theories that will work, and get you by. Some are even pretty stable and allow for decent growth. Before completely changing how an entire country works, I personally would just prefer to try to FIX the problem rather than start over.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow, Mike, I think you set a word-speed fallacy record. Nice way to appeal to emotions and ignorance. Maybe, it is you who is the one that is out of touch with copyright. I mean you look at copyright from an economic standpoint, right? You said that to a lawyer once on this blog. Maybe that standpoint puts you out of touch. Just a thought.

chris (profile) says:

isn't czar a term for a symbolic figurehead?

i’m as against big copyright as anyone, but in politics, especially the US, isn’t czar a term for a person with a fancy title and lots of visibility, but with no real authority?

in the past the US has had crime czars, drug czars, and since crime and drugs are still alive and well, i would assume that a copyright czar would have a similar effect.

AJ says:

I don't get it.

The consumer, the musicians, even some record labels are changing their buisness models with the times. Why do these guys hold out and try to piss off their customers? I would think it would be cheaper, and make them look “Hip” by enbracing the new technology, and change they way they do buisness. The have a massive free distribution system (torrent), educated customers who already use it, and an enormous opertunity to put themselves on the side of the people by giving us what we want. I honestly don’t understand why they refuse to do so. They’ve got to be smart enough to see that by fighting us, they are just driving us away. None of this makes any since.

Tim says:

Re: I don't get it.

The consumer, the musicians, even some record labels are changing their buisness models with the times.

Oh that’s not even the half of it. remember when everything was mechanical? Your dishwasher had a knob, the microwave had a knob, to set the clock, it had a knob?

I was thinking about this and how knobs are really on the way out. Mechanical engineering seems to be replaced with electrical engineering in so many industries.

This of course causes new business models! Whose problem is this failure to adapt? Propping it up with government protection pretty much guarantees that someone from the outside is going to take over the market and industry like a thief in the night.

Copyright police. Hah! There’s apparently no end to the stupidity in Washington.

9% approval rating in Congresss. 9%!!!! How can 100 people fail sooooo bad?

James says:

Re: I don't get it.

Well of course you don’t get it… because it makes no sense. The only ones it makes sense to are these media companies and their trade groups.

They don’t care about customers, and they don’t care about the artists. Most artists, even big ones, know they are going to make scant $$ on their CDs.. why do you think a concert t-shirt costs $40?

The record companies are going the way of the horse and buggy faster than a chicken being chased by Ronald McDonald. They need to focus on what they can do best.. promotion, and distribution, for which the artists would pay them a fee.

This fee could perhaps be a percentage of an artists album or albums (for newer artists with less $$ and established sales), but regardless, the artist would simply owe the record company an amount of money for their service and could do as they wish with the music that they produce… including, giving it away.

These people need to get their head out of their ass and get with it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Time to offer a solution?

Mike and others in the blogosphere, such as Corey Doctorow, have done an excellent job educating the public on copyright matters.

But what I NEVER see discussed by Mike and Corey: what to do to effectively fight the vested copyright interests. Nothing, nada, not one word… What good is identifying a problem without proposing a workable solution?

Mike, maybe it’s time to start discussing action — start proposing specific, concrete ideas on what to do to fight creeping copyright fascism.

And don’t copout with the usual “get involved” tripe. Let’s get down to specifics. Maybe we need to lock Mike, Corey, and others in a room and not let them out until they come up with a specific proposal?

I’m getting sick of all this talk but no action.

eleete (user link) says:

Re: Re: Time to offer a solution?

Well obviously that isn’t so true, we are voting with our dollars, and as the article shows, the companies respond by paying our representatives to turn us into criminals. Did you read the article ? Won’t matter where you spend your money when you notice a Tax introduced on your cable, cell phone, and blank CDs/DVDs now will it ? No, the answer is to remove their power ($money$) from the hands of our representatives and remove the representatives from the offices they hold.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Time to offer a solution?

“voting with dollars” is certainly one way. Why? Because it shows where the power resides.

But *how* do we get this to happen? It certainly hasn’t happened yet.

Again, let’s get down to brass tacks. Let’s get specific, let’s cut out the platitudes of “get involved”, or “vote”, or “vote with your dollars”. That does not work.

If we continue with these platitudes, we will lose for sure.

Gary says:

Re: Re: Re: Time to offer a solution?

Probably need to do both. It’s freaking cheap for companies to buy off politicians. $30,000 to fund the race from one company, $30,000 from another.

Heck, you get an entire industry to fund a set of candidates, you get to where we are today! But because the PEOPLE aren’t actively sending emails or writing to congress, , the only voice that gets heard is that of big content, big oil, or what have you.

Your kidding yourself if you believe congresspeople, especially the old farts, jump on blogs… But the companies have the resources to! They probably called Patrick Lehey’s office and asked him to dust off that Copyright Czar idea.

It’s really not that tough, you know? Hell, some people need letters from congresspeople to get into certain colleges. Most congresspeople would like to hear from regular people over corporate interests any day…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Time to offer a solution?

Maybe we (collectively) need to fight using the same tactics as the big media interests. What if we got 20 million people to each contribute $10, pool and contribute that to each congresscritter. Let’s see, for our senators and representatives, that works out to approximately $350,000 *each*. With that donation, we can get whatever we want.

Not only that, the 20 million people represents a lot of votes.

Not only that, imagine if the 20 million say: “we won’t go to a movie” and “buy any music from the big media companies” for the next year unless big media quits donating to our Congressfolk.

We have to realize that it is US who holds ultimate power, and Mike and Cory are completely ignoring the obvious solution.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Time to offer a solution?

To be honest, writing our congressmen, although something I encourage everyone to do, will not win this war.

The only way to turn around this move towards copyright fascism is to organize and then lobby our congresscritters the same way big media does. This means campaign donations. Combine this with threatening consumer boycotts of big media if they continue to donate to congresscritters, and I believe we will rout the promoters of copyright fascism.

Until we treat this as a war that must be won at all costs (so long as it is done within the law), we will see copyright fascism continue to creep in.

Thom says:

This is the Internet, let's use it

Do you really think the big media companies aren’t abusing copyright on a daily basis? Whether on a national scale in television/radio/newspaper/Internet advertising or a lesser scale in office training brochures you can bet they’re regularly using someone’s material without permission.

Let’s organize. Let’s pick apart every piece of content they produce. Let’s hold them to the same standards they want to hold us to. Find their victims and direct those victims to sue for maximum damages and clean out the coffers. Big media can’t make any excuse in court that can’t be shot down by quoting media’s own legal filings.

Anonymous Coward says:

Chrono's Proposal

Did anyone ever put together that form letter based on Chrono’s idea earlier this week?

It’s really not that hard- just go to: and enter state on top right, and enter state on top left.

I think the House has to introduce the bill, right? Geez it’s four decades since I studied politics.!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Chrono's Proposal

Can someone put together a list of talking points, or a template which details the proposed solution with a synopsis of original intent of the copyright system?

Seriously, folks, I’ve received responses from every email I’ve sent to my congressional leadership.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re: Re: Chrono's Proposal

If you go to the links AC gave, and, you can look up your representatives website. The E-Mail may be on that site.

I’d wright up a form letter for you guys but I can’t speak politics and I have no idea how I should wright it up. It’s been a long time since social studies. Plus I don’t think we ever fully agreed on the proposal anyways.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Chrono's Proposal

7 Years starting out
7 Year renewal
$1 renewal fee for individuals, More for companies
Infinite renewal as long as the originating creator (this was the last debated point)
The product must be commercially available to keep the copyright.
The product doesn’t have to sell but it must be at a reasonable cost (no $10,000,000 DVDs)
Once you lose your copyright, it’s lost.

skyrider (profile) says:

Reason why the house and senate want copyright czar

Because if they don’t, the members of the MPAA will stop holding Michael Moore back from doing FAHRENHEIT (insert senator or representative name here) movies.

Every Senator or Representative will be tailed around by hidden cameras, every speech will be sound-bited to death, and ALL the skeletons will be put on display.

THAT is why the house and senate want a copyright czar, because they don’t want Moore-Gate. They could care less about propping up an obsolete business model.

Thought Cancer (user link) says:

Czar has a special meaning in the American political lexicon

The term “czar” has a special place in the lexicon of American politics, both corporate and government. Whenever there’s a situation that has no fix (or no fix that can be reasonably attained), the powers-that-be appoint a czar to oversee the situation.

For example, in the US govt there are appointed Drug Czars, Immigration Czars, Energy Czars, Education Czars, and a whole bunch of Czar’s who oversee areas of policy that are not really meant to be improved, but still need to be shown as something that is being addressed and taken care of. Appointed Czar’s usually have no power, very little budget, and are all show, appointed for the purpose of silencing and placating critics. The Czars don’t actually have to “fix” anything, since the areas of policy that they’re “put in charge of” are literally beyond fixing. They just have to show up to work and fight the good fight; in this way, the powers-that-be can say that they’re doing something about the problem, while not actually having to allocate any significant resources to fix anything.

So, when someone appoints a Czar to make everyone safer (or to give the appearance of top-level action), take it with a grain of salt.

Just my $0.02

Anonymous Coward says:

The only reason why we see us moving towards copyright fascism is because of campaign donations by big media to our congresscritters. That is the ONLY reason. There is no other reason why this is happening. Wake up, people!

The only way to fight it is to outdo the big media companies at their own game. Until we, as a community, realize this, we will continue to take it in the rear.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The war must be fought on multiple fronts. This includes donations to our congresscritters. So “outdo” includes outdoing big media in campaign donations to our senators and representatives.

As a previous example gave, if 20 million people each donated $10, and then that is all donated to our senators and representatives, that works out to about $350,000 each. Now there may be limits to how much a lobbying organization can donate, but we can certainly equal if not outdo what big media gives our congresscritters.

Ulke says:

A Template-- Comments welcome!

Dear [Seanator/House Represenative],

I am writing to express my support about H.R. 5889, and disapproval of Senator Patrick Leahy’s attempt to create additional copyright strengthening which benefits the few, and powerful interests.

When the powers of copyright were originally created in the US Constitution, it allowed congress to create a GOVERNMENT SPONSORED MONOPOLY of a creative work for a limited time. After the time expired, it was to be placed in the public trust. (i.e. Public Domain)

Today, we move further away from the original intent of the copyright as something to benefit the public good and envisioned by our forefathers, especially Thomas Jefferson, considered to be father of the USPTO. As companies amass large copyright, and patent portfolios, they prevent small business and entrepreneurs from bringing products to market.

Orphaned works (works which no longer enjoy Government protection) currently can not be returned to the public interest due to a multitude of factors. One being inability to locate owners. This affects the usage of orphan works cultural heritage sector, or use by museums and libraries for preservation and education, as well as creation of derivative works which could be re-purposed for new commercial application.

In a time when computers are assisting in manufacturing of derivative works, and when manufacturing is rampantly going offshore, this prevents Americans such as myself from expanding and elaborating on not only orphaned works but existing works as well.

Therefore, I humbly ask that you assist us in considering new legislation which benefits the US economy-

Because Copyright is essentially a Government-sponsored monopoly on a work, I ask that Copyright be rolled back to a 7-year period so artists can monetize their works. 7-years is in line with US IRS code for new corporation profitability.

Secondly, to encourage derivative works, I ask that renewals of the copyright be available at a nominal cost (Such as $10.00) for individuals. A corporate assignee could renew as well, but at an additional cost (Perhaps $100)

Also to encourage our position as leader in the progress of the arts and sciences, I ask that the product be commercially available at a reasonable cost, lastly once copyright expires, it should be returned back to the public trust as originally intended with Thomas Jefferson’s words.

I ask you to consider the harm the current system creates and how it essentially benefits the few, powerful interests while sequesters new businesses. Please vote for H.R. 5889 and help incent intellectual property ownership back to the public, while respecting rights-holders who own a GOVERNMENT SPONSORED MONOPOLY in the form of Copyright.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed Orphan Works legislation and allow me to share my position.



Indy Mac says:

Re: wtf

Got to tackle the problems at the source. The problem is that the public has no voice. Sure we blog about it, but it’s only being used by well-funded interests to cockblock. Seems that unless it makes it on Colbert Report, no one knows.

It’s time the Blogosphere wakes up to this fact man.

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” ~Thomas Jefferson

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Anyone familiar with iPAC?

The goals of IPac are good, but it lacks one thing: being a member-driven organization. The real power comes in numbers. Look at other very successful lobbying organizations, like the NRA, and they base their power on having millions of members. And $$$. Lots of $$$. I don’t see IPac focusing on bringing together over a million members, which it could in a heartbeat if it wanted to.

No, we need an organization for the ordinary media and Internet user to join.

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