Copyright Czar Agrees That The Gov't Should Let Business Models Decide Winners, Rather Than Legislation

from the time-to-walk-the-walk dept

While I certainly have my disagreements on a variety of points with US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel, I will say that she’s always been open to talking about the issues (unlike many others). She’s also worked hard to really listen to people on all sides of the debate around intellectual property, and from what I can tell, take most of their opinions quite seriously, rather than just brushing them off. While I disagree with where she’s ended up on an awful lot of issues, I respect her willingness to listen, and still have high hopes that she’s coming around to realizing that strict enforcement often isn’t the best answer. In the past, she’s specifically reached out to us to discuss different business models and different ways that people can make money without relying on intellectual property, and it appears that she’s been thinking even more about that lately. In a talk at the World Copyright Summit in Brussels, she made it clear that a lot of the issues can be taken care of through business model innovation, rather than legislation:

“The U.S. government doesn’t need to pick winners and losers and the last thing we should think about doing is messing up the Internet with inappropriate regulation,” she told the World Copyright Summit in Brussels.

She also talked up the value of new services, including various “cloud” services from Amazon, Google and Apple (which is interesting, since the record labels still seem to be hinting that Amazon and Google’s services may not be legal, in their minds).

So, kudos to Espinel for making such a statement.

That said, it would be nice if we could see a bit more walking the walk, beyond just talking the talk. Espinel has certainly had a role to play in the PROTECT IP Act, which many people are warning could “mess up the internet,” through its messing with DNS. On top of that, Espinel was also the driving force behind the new bill we recently spoke about that could make embedding and linking to infringing material a felony by extending the coverage of criminal copyright law to include “public performances.” This sort of law does lead to the government picking winners and losers, and is totally unnecessary.

The focus really should be on encouraging the embrace of new business models, rather than ramping up enforcement. The recent SSRC study highlighted clearly the fallacy of ramping up enforcement as a means of dealing with infringement, as it simply doesn’t work and has massive unintended consequences. Hopefully, Espinel will begin moving away from pushing new legislation like these recent efforts, and really will focus on helping content creators and others in the industry to move towards smart new business models instead.

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Comments on “Copyright Czar Agrees That The Gov't Should Let Business Models Decide Winners, Rather Than Legislation”

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Greevar (profile) says:


Illegal is illegal. Wrong is wrong. If you compare the two in a Venn diagram, you’d see that the two intersect, but do not overlap entirely. You often use false dichotomies in your arguments though, don’t you?

A law that supports your ideals doesn’t make it right and the those that oppose that law are not necessarily wrong. You don’t get to have laws that regulate in your favor at the detriment of everyone else. The 1st, 4th, and 13th amendments disagree greatly with the type of legislation you desire.

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:


“It sets such a better example when you encourage people to set up businesses based on illegal activity”… and draconian laws that prop up outdated business models with government granted monopolies that serve no other purpose than to make sure the deep pockets stay deep, as long as the money flows through Washington DC in the form of campaign contributions, lobbying funds, and outright bribes including well paying jobs after the politicians “public servant” sentence ends.

See what I did there? Now it reeks of truth and will surely burn the retinas of trolls and industry shills alike!

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Rather than seeing the pendulum swing back

“that may work in other places, but in america we dearly love our perpetual “lash out -> backlash -> counter backlash” cycles.”

Actually, we just need to have a single short 10 year backlash against copyright maximalism. After that the content creators that can’t adapt will be bankrupt, and the new content creators, that embrace new business models, will be in control. The one thing both sides need to remember is, that the cost of content to the consumer is going to zero.

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