Worst Kept Secret Now Confirmed: Government Was Very Involved Helping RIAA/MPAA Negotiate Six Strikes

from the well,-duh dept

From the moment the so-called “voluntary” six strikes agreement between the RIAA/MPAA and various ISPs came out, it was obvious that the Obama administration, in the form of VP Joe Biden’s office and IP Czar Victoria Espinel, were involved. We had even discussed that. Now some more details have come out, as Christopher Soghoian received a response to his Freedom of Information Act request, seeking emails from government officials concerning the deal — and, of course, it shows that Biden’s office and Espinel were heavily, heavily involved… and almost exclusively on the side of the RIAA and MPAA. Both of those organizations were regularly in touch with the administration, including planning about how the deal was going to be announced. Amusingly, Biden’s office apparently freaked out when Greg Sandoval at CNET broke the story a few weeks before the deal was official.

The emails note that Espinel did make sure to “involve” two groups who represent consumer interests — CDT and Public Knowledge — but it’s quite clear from the nature of the interactions that those organizations were not really involved in the negotiations, but were shown the details towards the end, to avoid them feeling “taken by surprise” when the deal was announced. None of this is particularly surprising, but it’s pretty silly for everyone to pretend that this was a “voluntary agreement between private entities.” It was clear from the beginning that the White House was heavily involved, and was very much backing the entertainment industry’s viewpoint. In theory, the government should be representing the people, but the cozy nature of the relationship suggests it was exactly the opposite. The government was representing industry against the public interest.

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Comments on “Worst Kept Secret Now Confirmed: Government Was Very Involved Helping RIAA/MPAA Negotiate Six Strikes”

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PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Surprise ?

Actually, I recently read The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and The Life of Abraham Lincoln (both free on Kindle).

It seems that Franklin was very concerned to get a consensus before passing anything (this was slightly pre-America).

And while Lincoln was of a similar vein personally, his contemporaries were 10x more corrupt than today’s politicians, violating the Amendments left and right. They had laws against guns and they could search anyone’s house at any time for an escaped slave and Lincoln’s murder was part of a terrorist plot that also attacked the Vice President, several prominent senators, etc.

Lincoln’s death cleaned up the dirty politics for a little while, but it quickly went back.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Surprise ?

The question is what is the true public interest?

The short term access to content?

The long term production of content?

Moreover, you have to ask what the government’s goal is. I know that content is taxable (on all levels), and thus is a good source of government revenue – and a chunk of the economy. The short term illegal access to content is, well, not exactly taxable, is it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Surprise ?

The public interest is to keep the content creators motivated to create additional content. To do this you remove their monopoly rights to profit from the content they produce after a short period of time. Usually something less than a decade is a good number. This motivates them by removing their free-revenue stream over work that they did years before. They need revenue to live on, therefore they are prompted to create something new that can likewise be covered for a term of years not to exceed 10 and the cycle repeats itself.

Intellectual property is a farce. No one owns ideas. If you want to own an idea and have no one else profit from it, keep it to yourself and be gleeful in the knowledge that you are smarter than anyone else and came up with it on your own.

Copyright should be for 5 years. Quit being lazy and get to work on a new book/song instead of resting on your laurels and being a drain on society.

Trademark should be for 10 years, renewable for additional 1 decade spans, on an indefinite basis. You start a company or group of some sort, come up with a logo.. feel free to keep it as long as you remember to file the paperwork to do so. Trademark should in no way be usable for a process or method. Nor should it be allowed to be used for artistic works or characters [such as mickey mouse] The mouse head emblem, yes, the character, no.

Patent should be good for

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Surprise ?

Empty rhetoric from an AC – not surprising.

The question is what is the true public interest?
Certainly not one sided six strikes legislation that involved not one single entity representing said public, despite the job description of our sold out elected officials.

The short term access to content?
Access to any and all legitimate content.

The long term production of content?
Content can be and currently is produced from many sources not just the big content companies who were the ONLY group represented.

“Moreover, you have to ask what the government’s goal is. I know that content is taxable (on all levels), and thus is a good source of government revenue – and a chunk of the economy.”
I’ve never paid a single dime to watch all sorts of content on YouTube – where and when is all this content being taxed – who’s collecting the money? Are the artists being paid?

Myopic troll is still a troll, back under the bridge until sundown!

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: Surprise ?

Moreover, you have to ask what the government’s goal is.
the goal of all public officials is to get [re]elected. obama and his boys have raised millions in contributions already and the campaign hasn’t really started yet.

I know that content is taxable (on all levels), and thus is a good source of government revenue – and a chunk of the economy.
hollywood has supposedly been losing “billions” for over a decade. if you want to collect tax revenue and boost the economy you should probably get in bed with growing companies with products people want to buy, like apple, amazon and google, rather than “shrinking” companies like book publishers, movie studios and record labels.

The short term illegal access to content is, well, not exactly taxable, is it?
it’s not, but the hundreds millions of consumers who pay taxes probably generate way more tax revenue than hollywood does, given its propensity for creative accounting.

unless this is actually about campaign contributions, in which case, hollywood weilds way more power than the voting public.

surfer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Surprise ?

honestly, I think the real issue here is the end game.. the content industry has been killing legitimate distribution methods for 10 years now, as internet speeds get faster, and harddrives get larger, there comes a tipping point whereas an individual will acquire, legally or otherwise, enough content to cease consumption entirely. perhaps jaunting into a sparse acquirement here and there, but never to the likes of the days of the CD.

personally, I have enough content to sate a reasonable length of my existing years and not purchase/download anything..

currently 0.003% of the world population downloaded the top 10 grossing movies of all time, what happens when that gets to 10%, or 20%?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Surprise ?

That 0.003% is only the visible ones, I’m certain that the number of people getting stuff for free is way higher than that.

I look at my friends, coworkers and family and I don’t see them pirating less, every day one of them appears or comments on something he/she acquired illegally.

That also makes me all warm and fuzzy, because it tells me that democracy cannot be muffled by any government in the world even if they tried very, very hard.

Capitalism may die because of all this monopolies but democracy will never die.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Surprise ?

False dichotomy.

Content is being produced at a rate never seen before.
You want to learn how to cut glass.


Anything you want you can find it, the information is free and accessible to everyone and that content is useful.

Now if you are speaking of Hollywood flicks, labels and publishers of fiction, who cares that is not important that is why is even classified as “luxury item”. But even they will still be making money and the reason for that is the same as why McDonald’s became a multinational without any “protections” everybody could copy McDonalds dishes, they did and still McDonalds thrived why?

In case you are to dumb to realize the why, is because of service and the human nature laziness.

More the same people who would waste $60 bucks on a PPV will probably waste that money in other things like peppers.

Youtube: Eating The Hottest Pepper in the World, The Bhut Jolokia (Naga Ghost Chili)

So there is no tax reasons, that money will be taxed one way or another, you can thank that to the government that left little places to hide.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Surprise ?

“The short term access to content?

The long term production of content?”

It’s been said, but both of these can co-exist regardless of copyright. The reverse is also true. Think of The Beatles. They produced just 7 years worth of recorded material, yet they sell to this day, 40 years after their last recording.

That was due to the relatively minimal copyright that existed in the 60s. I’m not seeing any evidence that material that lasts longer is being inspired by longer copyrights…

Bart says:

Re: Re: Surprise ?

How about:

The long term access to content?

Copyright terms are way too long now. After a number of years, the industry looses interest in keeping good quality copies of old productions. Yet people are still forbidden from distributing copies they have to other people that are interested. These copies may be the only remaining copies in the world.

And after a number of years, it is virtulally impossible to be found, anywhere in the world. Yet, often, they’re still under copyright, and it’s still forbidden to distribute what may be the only copy left.

Jay (profile) says:

My issue with this...

Alec French, NBC?s top lobbyist, sent copyright czar Espinel an e-mail from his Blackberry in January of last year, asking if she was ?available for call this am??

She promptly replied: ?Btw, i only check my gmail intermittently now so much quicker to reach me on omb email,? referrring to her work e-mail address provided by the Office of Management and Budget. She said she was available for the call. Her personal e-mail address was redacted in the documents.
“Instead, the President Barack Obama appointee referred Wired to the OMB press office. That office neither responded for comment nor replied to a follow-up e-mail.”


THIS is the problem of our government. When anyone has a valid complaint, they get a form letter. When people speak up, it can be routinely ignored. But any lobbyist gets a personal email, daily discussions, and updates with those in power without any public consideration. That’s not a democracy. It’s hypocrisy. Glad to see the emails of the people that believe the public has no rights. It’s time to create newer incentives than the ones that allow for a farce of government.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: My issue with this...

THIS is the problem of our government. When anyone has a valid complaint, they get a form letter. When people speak up, it can be routinely ignored. But any lobbyist gets a personal email, daily discussions, and updates with those in power without any public consideration. That’s not a democracy. It’s hypocrisy. Glad to see the emails of the people that believe the public has no rights. It’s time to create newer incentives than the ones that allow for a farce of government.

To be honest, I wouldn’t read too much into Alec having Victoria’s gmail address. Lots of people on all sides know each other and have outside emails. In fact, I actually think it’s a *good* think that Espinel pushed the conversation over to her WH email.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: My issue with this...

Yeah, but let’s remember that the motivation for moving the conversation to her WH email was occasioned by a matter of convenience for her (‘I don’t check gmail often’) as opposed to some more virtuous motivation such as wanting to offer a little more transparency in government.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: My issue with this...

“To be honest, I wouldn’t read too much into Alec having Victoria’s gmail address. Lots of people on all sides know each other and have outside emails. In fact, I actually think it’s a *good* think that Espinel pushed the conversation over to her WH email.”

I disagree for a number of reasons.

This shows that lobbyists are in constant contact with government officials. More than any interest of the public (EFF, PK, KEI, etc) ever will be. Any suggestion of public support will have a very hard time gaining acceptance in this atmosphere because of this one sided deal that the government/private interests are courting.

The public is also worse off for this collusion. Because of Biden’s personal belief that copyright infringement is theft, he seems to be quite diligent in pursuing that interest for the trade industries. Meanwhile, where do we, the public stand? The government has no idea. And it does not care one whit. That’s the most frustrating part.

I recall that people sent in heartfelt letters, hoping to sway their representatives opinion at the very least in copyright. Every one of them from the major copyright players (Cornyn, Klaboucher, Leahy) seems to have been met with a form letter after weeks with no replies. And yet, here is evidence that the opposite side of the coin has access to the Executive Branch in Biden, campaign donations for the Legislative, and the Judicial court system in the form of Beryl, who seems an odd choice for ruling over the H&R block merger.

Yes, I stand somewhat pessimistic about this, because it’s all quite daunting to the individual. Their rights are impinged for the all mighty dollar and there’s very few in government that truly fight for them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Horizontal Price Fixing

This is still an agreement among and between ?competitors? to fix prices at $35.

This is still an agreement among and between ?competitors? to offer uniform terms to buyers.

Horizontal Price Fixing is still a per se violation of ??1 of the Sherman Act of 1890.

From ?An Antitrust Primer for Federal Law Enforcement Personnel?, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice (Revised: April 2005):


Per Se Violations. Price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation are generally prosecuted criminally because they have been found to be unambiguously harmful, that is, per se illegal.?.?.?.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Horizontal Price Fixing

Since Reagan no one has enforced the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

You didn’t read the link, did you?

From the DoJ Antitrust Primer, under the same section ?II. PRICE FIXING, BID RIGGING, AND MARKET ALLOCATION?:

The Lysine Conspiracy. The lysine investigation broke up an international price-fixing and volume allocation agreement among the world’s major producers of lysine.?.?.?.Since the first round of charges in August 1996, the investigation ? a joint effort by the Antitrust Division and the FBI ? resulted in the conviction of five companies and six of their executives. . . . Three former high-ranking ADM executives were convicted in September 1998 after a ten-week jury trial.

Emphasis added on ?August 1996? and ?September 1998?.

The 1996-98 time period is considerably after Reagan. I believe that’s the Clinton era. The 42nd president came after the 40th president, didn’t he?

So an administration has enforced the Sherman Act ? 1 prohibition against price-fixing since the Reagan era.

Anonymous Coward says:

?So what is the plan? Monitor and respond if need be. We can be ready to move at a moment?s notice,? Hoffman, Biden?s deputy chief of staff, wrote to Espinel and Sherman in a June e-mail. The subject was ?the leaked story.?

The RIAA?s Sherman promptly replied to Hoffman?s concerns: ?That?s the plan exactly. Thanks for being prepared to move quickly if necessary.?

I’m curious what they were monitoring for, and what response they had prepared.

Dave (profile) says:

The e-mails do not entail much detail of the discussions between the administration and industry ? as any substantive text in the e-mails (.pdf) was blacked out before being released to Soghoian.

And which of the nine exemptions did they justify blacking out the information? I don’t remember “embarrasses the current administration” being a valid reason.

bob (profile) says:

Just who are "the people".

Uh, earth to Big Search, Big Piracy and Big Hardware: the people are not just the couch-bound slackers who won’t pay $1 for a song. Nope. There are plenty of creators and makers in the United States and they’re usually quite happy to retain the control that copyright gives them. These creators like the power to decide how and under which terms to share their creations.

You might even argue that there are many more creators and makers out there than piracy-addicted losers living in their parents’ basement.

So I like to believe that maybe just maybe the President sees that the creators and makers are just as deserving of inclusion as the astroturfers for Big Search, Big Piracy and Big Hardware.

DC (profile) says:

Re: Just who are "the people".

Wow, the idiocy never ceases.

1 — This post is about publishers getting the _only_ inside track on policy. NOTE: No artists / creators.

2 — Please note how no search, or hardware interests had access.

3 — Obviously no piracy or fair use or technically competent interests were involved.

So … how is this fair policy making?

Funny how you claim there are more content creators than pirates. I’ll let you figure it out exactly how that is funny for yourself.

Parent’s basement argument? Pathetic.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Just who are "the people".

Then maybe the government should talk to the creators then, instead of the people who simply make money off the backs of the creators. The MPAA and RIAA represent labels not artist, and most of those labels are owned by giant multi-national corporations, most of which are based in other countries. The artists have no power or voice here.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Just who are "the people".

“. The labels may use plenty of the cash for marketing and other perhaps selfish interests, but they do pay money to the creators unlike Big Piracy–“


“Big Hardware– “


“and Big Search.”

Well ya got me there, since Google doesn’t pay much. But Pirate Bay with its free advertising…

Killercool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Just who are "the people".

So apparently I didn’t pay $35 dollars to go to that concert, for the band I never would have discovered if not for searching and “pirating” their music for my hardware of choice. The same $35 I would have paid for only 2 of their CDs, of which they would have received ~$1-2 (or none, depending on their label), as opposed to the ~$15-20 they made from my ticket.
Good to know, bob.

Robert J. Berger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Just who are "the people".

Do you know for a fact the artists get paid? You might want to research that a bit more. There are some artists that get paid, but many don’t. They get CHARGED to produce an album. They get CHARGED for the publicity. And after all those CHARGES which are paid to the label are covered, then the artist will get paid what is left. Funny thing is in many cases the CHARGES just seem to work out to be more than the income. If the artist is lucky they will det about 13% of the total profit. And that has to be split among all the band members and their Producers, Lawyers, and Managers.

And if they don’t screw the artists that way, then they do it by just ripping them off.

Movie and Record companies are the original and will always be Pirates.

hmm (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Just who are "the people".

are you actually retarded or just trolling?

You’re claiming hardware manufacturers don’t pay creators.

Lets see how many DVDs get sold if every company MAKING DVD players stopped production.

Or perhaps if fibre-optic cable manufacturers ceased working so broken connections never got fixed…

Btw thanks for “big search” I’m off to register that domain hehehehe nice name for a search engine. I might also register “bigpiracy.com”

and big hardware…but only if i start selling industrial-quality vibrators.

Adrian Lopez says:

I long suspected the Obama Administration was the one behind the recent agreement between ISPs and the content industry. I’m sure ISPs would prefer to decide on their own which users it is best to keep and which it is best to drop, so the fact ISPs reached any kind of deal with the content industry was a puzzle with a missing piece. It turns out that missing piece was the US Copyright Czar.

I suspect the same thing about recent efforts to shut down domain names: You have Congress pushing for PROTECT IP, DHS shutting down allegedly infringing domains without a trial, and Verizon out of the blue and for no apparent reason deciding to incorporate policies similar to those of PROTECT IP which would better allow DHS to shut down domains it considers infringing. That is the sort of thing that suggests a coordinated effort rather than mere coincidence.

Thomas (profile) says:

Follow the money...

the RIAA/MPAA contributes enough “campaign contributions” (aka bribes) to the right people in Congress and the White House, so it’s not surprising the government is involved. It’s not a question of Obama or the Republicans or the Democrats; they are all equally guilty.

The government is supposed to be for the people, but nowdays it’s for businesses to screw the people.

With the right amount of money in the right places, you can get a new law, get an old one repealed, get a favorable decision in any court, and get any government agency to kiss your tushie.

out_of_the_blue says:

So, anyway, 6 strikes is in place. Start "routing around" and encrypting!

Have I mentioned /today/ that ISPs, while conspiring with Big Media and Big Gov’t, have been putting deep packet inspection equipment in place? Think they spent money on that without the plan being set long ago? You people haven’t yet grasped the true purpose of the Internet: it’s a major part of “1984” to surveil and control.

You’ve been lured by “free”, including piracy of “content”, to give up privacy. Now the owners are converting from “loss leader” stage to “monetizing”.

About all to do now is have a contest to see who can get the first notice, 2nd, and so on. — But I bet that only a handful hold out past 4th stage…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: So, anyway, 6 strikes is in place. Start "routing around" and encrypting!

Have I mentioned that people today has the ability to create their own networks?


Did people mentioned to you that deep inspection doesn’t work that good on encrypted channels?

Anonymous Coward says:

The emails are a treasure trove of info on who exactly is behind all this. These documents are evidence of crimes against the American people and thanks to the FOIA, these documents can’t be destroyed as they are already in the hands of the people. After the revolution is over, these people will be tried as traitors to the American people. Especially once the paper trail of “campaign contributions” shows how much was paid to enact these egregious laws against the people.

hmm (profile) says:

not so much

Not so much in the pocket of big business but under its feet licking the soles in the hopes of a job in the future.

I can’t think of a SINGLE politician that hasn’t taken a bribe at sometime from big business to push through a law thats quite obviously against the best interests of the public. (I include all the presidents in that including the current one btw)

bringthemdown says:

Not a surprise - they are as corrupt as North Korea

The American government is the biggest ponzi scheme in the world. To keep this shell game called the USA going, it must resort to manipulation, assassination, lies and even outright genocide such as in Iraq (also based on lies). It’s no surprise that American leaders are abusing the laws put in place to protect us, the citizens, in order to maintain the dominance of American interests. They are now seeing enforcement of IP as another revenue stream and area where America can dictate worldwide policy. So when their corporate masters come calling, Biden and Espinel are all to willing to fuck over the American public once again.

Tonsotunez says:

But wait a minute IP is our country's jobs future

While intellectual property (IP)has always been the underlying basis for our entire economy, IP is even more important today than ever before in our country’s history.

The traditional manufacturing jobs have either moved oversees or have been replaced by robots leaving millions of Americans who depended on those types jobs – and are untrained to do anything else – in a hopeless position for the rest of their lives.

We are now becoming an IP based service economy and that’s where the new jobs for a new generation are being created.

The White House, Joe Biden and Victoria Espinel are dedicated to preserving the concept of intellectual property to insure that Americans will have jobs in the future.

It’s not just about music and movies its about the ability to create jobs in every industry old and new… They are all IP based.

Tearing down the concept of IP to allow greedy people to stuff their digital devises with any sort of digital product they desire from illegal sources is not only a culture killer, it’s a jobs killer as well..

There are now numerous ways to get movies and music from legal free sources that pay the owners of the IP who, in turn pay the creators of the IP … What the hell is wrong with using those sources to get your entertainment fix?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: But wait a minute IP is our country's jobs future

You appear to have missed the actual objections to these “strikes” laws – that they completely circumvent due process.

Disconnections are based on accusations that do not go anywhere near a court of law, often based on flimsy and extremely easily faked data. The punishment is also completely disproportionate to the offence committed – a person can lose communications, access to government and employment services and even their job/home business if their internet is disconnected. Without going anywhere near a court of law or having had it proven that they committed the accused offence.

But, go ahead and pretend it’s so that people can get free crap if it makes you feel better. It’s a complete fiction, but go ahead.

Tonsotunez says:

Re: Re: But wait a minute IP is our country's jobs future

I’ll never understand why you guys keep pursuing this line of reasoning with so many legal options available and more coming.

Don’t you have something better to do with your life – something that may actually contribute something worthwhile to society in general? … Ya, know, like jobs.

Defending the circumvention of IP laws is soooo 2005.

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