IP Czar Won't Be In The Most Sensible Place Because Industry Doesn't Like It?
from the since-when-does-industry-dictate-stuff? dept
As you may remember, last year, thanks to lots of lobbying from the entertainment industry, Congress passed the totally unnecessary “ProIP” act, which made copyright even more draconian. Luckily, the most ridiculous parts of the bill — like getting the Justice Department involved in civil litigation over copyright — was dropped. But there was still plenty of bad stuff in there — including the establishment of an “IP Czar” or “Copyright Czar” who would basically be the entertainment industry’s personal representative in the White House, in charge of “coordinating” (i.e., “driving”) strategy on making sure that the entertainment industry’s obsolete business model is always protected directly from the White House.
Earlier this year, the Senators who pushed this through got antsy and pleaded with the White House to hurry up and appoint someone to the post. In response, the White House sent Joe Biden to an industry gathering, where he promised that the White House would pick “the right person” to represent the industry’s interests. And yet… since then, there’s been nothing.
It’s been a poorly kept secret that Victoria Espinel is likely to be the IP Czar — and, as former IP person at the USTR (who has always been strongly in support of stronger IP), it definitely seems like the industry will be happy with her. But why has it taken so long? Michael Scott points us to a report from last month that the “problem” is that the White House can’t figure out where to place this role:
- A stand-alone office. While this is probably the most desirable in terms of making the position as prominent within the Administration as IP owners would like, it remains [an] uphill battle.
- Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). OSTP is known for espousing views that are less then favorable to the IP community. Placing the IP Czar within OSTP would make no more sense than coupling Oscar and Felix (or for a more modern reference, coupling Harry Potter with Voldemort).
- Office of Management and Budget (OMB). If a stand-alone office is not in the cards than this may be the best alternative. While OMB does not usually establish policy, it does coordinate with numerous agencies on various projects, which is certainly within the purview of the IP czar.
Of course, OSTP is the department that makes the most sense — but as the writeup notes, the folks in OSTP are actually more technologically focused, and are believers in openness and collaboration — and are the sorts of folks who are skeptical of the need for greater IP protection (and, yes, some of them read Techdirt). But… given the role, it does seem like the most reasonable spot. In fact, it seems rather problematic that the White House would agree not to put it there, just because the entertainment industry is afraid that OSTP isn’t going to just bend over for the copyright industry’s interests. If Hollywood is basically getting their own representative in the White House, at the very least it seems fair to temper that position by putting it in a department that will at least debate how strong copyright protection needs to be.
The fact that the White House hasn’t simply placed the role in OSTP certainly feels like it agreeing not to do that because the industry lobbyists who pushed for the role in the first place won’t like it. That doesn’t seem like the way government should be run.