Senate Oversight Of IP Czar… Only Involves Entertainment Industry Execs

from the that's-oversight? dept

The ProIP Act added the role of the IP Enforcement Coordinator, a role that was filled by Victoria Espinel. We have been quite concerned that Espinel has viewed her role as protecting jobs in one particular industry (often at the expense of jobs and progress elsewhere) — a concern that was not alleviated by Espinel’s request for input on what she should focus on. That request made all sorts of assumptions about the impact of intellectual property infringement that were not actually supported by fact. Mike Arrington also reported recently on a meeting with Espinel where she made it clear that her role was to help the entertainment industry.

So, it’s unfortunate, but hardly a surprise that the Senate’s hearing on “oversight” of Espinel’s work involves only people on the entertainment industry’s side. The panel who will discuss Espinel’s performance includes the CEO of Warner Bros., the CEO of the “Global IP Center” of the Chamber of Commerce (whose views on IP are positively neanderthal, complete with some of the most ridiculous studies), the CEO of Carlin America (a music publisher) and the president of the AFL-CIO, who has already done some horse trading to be an official representative of the RIAA’s position.

Talk about regulatory capture. It’s as if the Senate is admitting that the role of the IP Enforcement Coordinator is to be the entertainment industry’s top cop, and her performance will be reviewed by the industry itself. The Constitution says that copyright and patents are for the purpose of “promoting the progress of science and the useful arts.” But that’s not what Espinel is doing. She’s protecting a particular industry, often at the expense of progress. To then have her review be done by such a one-sided panel of folks — folks who are receiving extreme benefits from her role — is just ridiculous.

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Comments on “Senate Oversight Of IP Czar… Only Involves Entertainment Industry Execs”

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Dark Helmet (profile) says:

This has been going on forever...

“To then have her review be done by such a one-sided panel of folks — folks who are receiving extreme benefits from her role — is just ridiculous.”

Other examples:

1. The FAA and American Airlines: the FAA failed to investigate and uncover AA not following production guidelines, which led to an abbreviated string of crashes in the last couple of years.

2. The Warren Commission: Gee, who should we put in charge of investigating the murder of JFK? How about most of the people he was planning on firing, including Earl Warren? Sound good?

3. The FDIC convincing Congress to scrap plans to force banks to spin off their derivatives businesses

Etc. etc. etc.

Once again, when business and government collude at the expense of the voter, that is corporatocracy, also known as stage 1 of fascism…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“At present the holder of copyright has the public feeling on his side. Those who invade copyright are regarded as knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men. Everybody is well pleased to see them restrained by the law, and compelled to refund their ill-gotten gains. No tradesman of good repute will have anything to do with such disgraceful transactions. Pass this law: and that feeling is at an end. Men very different from the present race of piratical booksellers will soon infringe this intolerable monopoly. Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot. On which side indeed should the public sympathy be when the question is whether some book as popular as Robinson Crusoe, or the Pilgrim’s Progress, shall be in every cottage, or whether it shall be confined to the libraries of the rich for the advantage of the great-grandson of a bookseller who, a hundred years before, drove a hard bargain for the copyright with the author when in great distress? Remember too that, when once it ceases to be considered as wrong and discreditable to invade literary property, no person can say where the invasion will stop. The public seldom makes nice distinctions. The wholesome copyright which now exists will share in the disgrace and danger of the new copyright which you are about to create. And you will find that, in attempting to impose unreasonable restraints on the reprinting of the works of the dead, you have, to a great extent, annulled those restraints which now prevent men from pillaging and defrauding the living.”

The government needs to think twice before making the laws even more ridiculous than they already are. It will only lead to mass disobedience as more people begin to realize that the laws are not intended to serve the public interests.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So much worse. I mean, right now, my level of involvement is minor, other than standing on the sidelines laughing at all the morons not embracing the present, let alone the future.

If stupid politicians start passing stupider laws because the general public is too apathetic on these and seemingly every other issue, than I might have to go all in. Full-blown disobedience.

“Just say no to copies!”

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

More and more the anti-piracy campaign looks like the Prohibition movement. The biggest difference is that prohibition was motivated by ideology but antipiracy is funded by the profit motive. When the country finally woke up and realized the damage being done by prohibition there was still lingering sympathy for the ideals. This time I doubt the will be much sympathy for the RIAA objectives. So far the industry has managed to make starving musicians the poster children for their movement; I think people are starting to realize that the artists are the biggest victims.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Look carefully at below the Wikipedia picture link. Steve, the guy with a laptop,is presenting something. He is now at the the Department of Energy.

Also, it’s neat that board meetings at BP involve what appear to include fermented beverages.

TW Burger (profile) says:

Re: Recording Industry Association of America's $1B court filing

The Recording Industry Association of America’s $1B court filing Monday (Read More:

shows that this is all getting out of hand. In the wired article there was a comment from a reader that stated: “The thing is, why pay for something you KNOW you can get for free. It’s like a guys selling bottles of water next to a drinking fountain.”

Well, I have seen a vendor in the park that was selling bottled water next to the public drinking fountain and he was making loads of money on that hot day. First, the fountain attracted thirsty people (ever wonder why car dealers always build car lots next to other car dealers?). For the free water you had to stand in line, ignore the inevitable garbage and gum and spit, take a limited time, taste the chemicals used to treat it, bend over uncomfortably due to the low water flow, etcetera.

The bottled water was convenient, refreshingly chilled, you could walk over to the shade to enjoy it at leisure, and a better quality product. That was what people will pay for.

I experimented with a few free music downloads. All were very poor quality and it seemed half had viruses within them. I prefer to pay for the music I want, but I do not want a few people dictating how I shop or what I pay. This is becoming a very communist looking business model (central control with fixed rules and very limited options) and nothing like the free enterprise that politicians always claim to be supporting.

SteelWolf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Recording Industry Association of America's $1B court filing

That’s a pretty insightful comment except for that last part. If your free music is poor quality and virus-ridden you’re going to the wrong places. The value of paying “for music” has little to do with file quality and everything to do with other intangibles.

TW Burger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Recording Industry Association of America's $1B court filing

I looked up a couple of old Deep Purple tracks on a torrent site. I was only experimenting. It didn’t seem worth it to put that much effort into something I can get at used record store or often at a moving sales for a couple of dollars. They have the recordings on iPods and laptops and don’t want to lug all the CDs to the new place.

That brings up another question. Do you think the RIAA will try to get second hand recordings banned? When will my possession of a 75 cent thrift store Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass’ “Whipped Cream” LP (mint condition!) make me a felon?

Headbhang (profile) says:

Re: Re: Recording Industry Association of America's $1B court filing

Dude, if you got those problems, you really are doing it wrong.

One of the problems with the official, legal channels is that none of them come even close to the convenience the internet has to offer if you go to the right places. Huge selection, perfect quality, great speeds and a helpful and knowledgeable community of music fans.

Even without factoring in the issue of price, not even iTunes or Spotify can compete with some of the resources the “pirates” have put together. How can they hope to get people to pay if they can’t offer something comparable in terms of digital distribution?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The headline of your article is terribly misleading. One witness associated with movies, one with music, two (AFL-CIO and USCOC) who touch upon IP issues far broader than merely copyright, and Ms. Espinel.

Not misleading at all. Both the AFL-CIO and the USCoC have put out position statements that side entirely with the entertainment industry.

Anonymous Coward says:

Should foreign entities be involved in writing US IP law?

A majority of entertainment industries are actually foreign-held corporations.

As an example, in the music industry, Universal Music Group is France-based. Sony/BMG is Japan and Germany based, EMI is UK Based, leaving Warner as the only US-based of the Big 4. Nielsen SoundScan in 2005 reported that 18% of all music sold in 2005 were from so-called independents. It’s odd that they seem to have less voice in the whole debate.

Point is, it’s tough to say that they will hold the best interests of the American People and overall Constitutionality in mind.

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