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.

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Comments on “IP Czar Won't Be In The Most Sensible Place Because Industry Doesn't Like It?”

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Free Capitalist (profile) says:

“(or for a more modern reference, coupling Harry Potter with Voldemort).”

Good reference but I think the pairing would more acurately be analogous to the relationship between Harry (OSTP) and the scar Voldemort left on his head (IP Czar in captivity).

While the big media co.s would be Voldemort himself, lurking, soul shattered in an Albanian wilderness, waiting for someone to come bail his ass out.

Use the scar against him Harry! Read his mind!!!

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: So

Hmmm. But consumers, as a group, DO pay the biggest chunk of tax revenues of any group. That doesn’t seem to matter.

What matters is campaign contributions, wining and dining, private jet flights to cool places, etc.

Taxes buy you nothing. Taxes are like paying for the meal, lobbying is like tipping. Only the big tippers are getting any good service.

sehlat (profile) says:

The REAL problem is regulatory capture.

Inevitably, regulatory agencies become captives of the industries they’re supposed to keep an eye on. The FCC delayed FM broadcasting for years because the AM stations “didn’t like it.” The ICC eventually got so bad that it was abolished. The FDA is openly in bed with Big Pharma. The CAB for years “regulated” competition right out of the airline industry.

Examples go on and on, because people keep forgetting that the most important question a bureaucrat ever asks is: “What will I do after I leave government service?” and a job in the industry they “regulate” is the obvious answer, since they know the territory. And nobody wants to knock over their own rice bowl.

A “Copyright Czar” will inevitably make darn sure that “established businesses” will be copyrighted/DRMed/”by any means necessary” kept in the game, and upstarts kept out. If you want to kill innovation in the “intellectual property” industries, you can’t do it better than that.

Thomas (profile) says:

Consumers will get screwed again

Derek is right. taxes don’t put people in office. Bribes, gifts of hookers(of both sexes), heroin, cocaine, travel, food, wine, and the like get you results, which count. That’s the way government works; the rich have the money to bribe the government and the taxpayers don’t. Once in office elected officials have two big concerns: returning favors to people who got them into office and getting re-elected. Helping the people that voted for them is about dead last in their priorities.

Derek Reed says:

RE: Consumers will get screwed again

“returning favors to people who got them into office and getting re-elected. Helping the people that voted for them is about dead last in their priorities.”

You said yourself that getting re-elected is in their priority list. It’s not so much that they have 0 motivation to represent people, there’s at least some there. For example, if an industry tried to get a politician to pass a law making it mandatory to rape babies, that politician might not get re-elected. There are some limits, and those limits are defined but the common folk complacency.

Every fuck up like this is just one step closer to getting a few more people “out there” to say “what the fuck man?”. Look on the bright side.

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