Will The Next Secretary Of State Support Internet Freedom Or SOPA?

from the let's-hope-for-internet-freedom dept

Last week, we noted that one of Hollywood’s favorite Congressional Reps., Howard Berman had lost his re-election bid (in part due to re-districting, putting him up against another incumbent). For years, Berman has been a go to guy for the entertainment industry looking to pass dubious copyright expansion bills. Berman used to run the “IP Subcommittee” of the Judiciary Committee — which you would think is a major conflict of interest, since he (literally) represented part of Hollywood. Amusingly, when he moved on to head the Foreign Affairs Committee, the next line for the IP Subcommittee was Rep. Rick Boucher — a noted copyright reform advocate. Magically, the Judiciary Committee made the IP Subcommittee disappear. When Boucher lost in the next election, and a maximalist was available again, magically the subcommittee reappeared.

Either way, as a bunch of sources have been reporting, now that Berman lost, he’s on the short list of possible candidates to become the new Secretary of State after Hillary Clinton steps down early next year. While many had thought that John Kerry would take the position (which he wants), there is now concern that the administration won’t want to take him out of the Senate, because his seat would likely flip to the Republicans (Scott Brown, who narrowly lost to Elizabeth Warren this time around). The other leading candidate, Susan Rice, (the US’s ambassador to the UN) is in a world of controversy right now over the Benghazi situation. That leaves Berman as a top choice (though there are a few others).

However, considering that the State Department is a leading supporter of internet freedom principles. Hillary Clinton made internet freedom a key plank of her focus at the State Department. In fact, we heard from multiple sources that the internal view at the State Department was against SOPA because it would hurt internet freedom efforts abroad. Similarly, we heard that State Department pressure on the White House helped lead to the surprising decision by the administration to come out against SOPA.

While Berman is known for having a strong grasp of foreign affairs issues, his positions on internet freedom and copyright should make it clear that he’s the wrong choice for Secretary of State. While people at State realized how problematic SOPA was, Berman was a co-sponsor of SOPA and continued to defend the bill to the end — arguing that it would have no impact on free speech and insisting that copyright infringement is no different than theft. Berman was also the one who tried to get Hillary Clinton to speak out in favor of SOPA, and then misrepresented that the letter she sent concerning the relationship between copyright and free speech, meant that the State Department supported SOPA (when it did not).

Given all that, Demand Progress is asking people to sign a letter to the White House not to nominate Berman as a replacement for Clinton. It really seems like he is way too beholden to a particular industry to be the appropriate person for the State Department. Let him do what everyone expects, and pick up an entertainment industry lobbying job.

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Comments on “Will The Next Secretary Of State Support Internet Freedom Or SOPA?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That is actually a good thing about EU. The system is hopeless in formation and system since too many chefs want to control different issues. On the flipside, it makes lobbying tough to pull off really effectively.

Since a law has to go through EP that is where most lobbying starts. But because national parliaments have to formulate the specifics in the laws, it is extremely important for lobbyists to influence the national parliaments too to assure the details they need. Because of those issues, direct lobbying is not a huge problem in EU so far.

It is getting worse and there is no doubt that it is a real significant problem in the long run, but that kind of corruption has actually been fought well through inefficiency and incompetency!

Thank god we have EU!

bob (profile) says:

How many taxes do the pirates pay?

Let’s forget the different donations that corporations pay to political parties.

The pirates pay no taxes and they’re proudly searching to move off shore where even more legal hassles keep them tax free.

Hollywood, on the other hand, is filled with people who pay taxes and live in smaller mansions that Kim Dotcom.

If you’re a government worker, who will earn your loyalty? Will it be to the industry that helps pay for the defense, the hospitals, the roads, the police, the fire departments etc? Or will it be to the scoundrels who gleefully flaunt their power to pay nothing?

Face it. Being the Secretary of State costs money. Why would the Secretary of State feel any sympathy for sophistries floated by the “sharing” community, the sophistries that feel that no money should change hands in the pursuit of entertainment? No money means no taxes and no taxes means no infrastructure for the Secretary of State.

I’m sure the Secretary of State for the US will take one look at the job of the Secretary of State of Somalia– the land where all of the pirate sympathizers dreams are being lived each day. Then they’ll go running to embrace Hollywood.

NotBob says:

Re: How many taxes do the pirates pay?

Problem with your simplistic hang-em-high outlook is that those taxpayers make more money in a world where fans can download without fear than in one where every fan is considered a criminal. There’s plenty of evidence that fans who download more also spend more, as the Japanese just proved.

There’s some leakage to free-riders, but people are happier and wealthier when downloads are easier. Well, people other than lawyers and lobbyists. Of course, who needs evidence when you have instinct-fuelled prejudice? Whip up that fear, Bob!

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re: How many taxes do the pirates pay?

People are happier and wealthier? What are you thinking? I’ve seen Somalia, land of total freedom. There are no patent lawsuits or copyright trolls bothering anyone in Somalia. It’s a pit.

On the flip side is Switzerland, a tight ship where they enforce copyrights and patents. The same goes for Japan. I don’t know what wacko study you’re citing about Japan, but I’m sure it’s just one of those rationalizations dreamed up by Internet free lunch crowd.

And you’re not helping your cause by claiming that Hollywood wants to turn every fan into a criminal. There’s a big difference between a fan who supports the artist and a leech who just takes. The latter is not a fan, but a cheap jerk.

silverscarcat says:

Re: Re: Re: How many taxes do the pirates pay?

“I don’t know what wacko study you’re citing about Japan,”

Hey, bob, check down the main page a bit…

“Japan enforces draconian IP downloading laws. Music sales tank.”


Do try to keep up, bob.

silverscarcat says:

Re: Re: Re: How many taxes do the pirates pay?

“I’ve seen Somalia, land of total freedom. There are no patent lawsuits or copyright trolls bothering anyone in Somalia. It’s a pit.”

wow… Just wow…

The stupidity and ignorance of this statement here…

bob, you have NO freaking idea why Somalia is a pit, do you?

Hint: Check out their fishing industries, check out the countries around them, check out the fact that people have to choose between starvation or criminal activity.

Copyright Infringement is NOT theft.

Sharing is Caring, after all.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: How many taxes do the pirates pay?

On the flip side is Switzerland, a tight ship where they enforce copyrights and patents.

Um. No.


Switzerland, which has been a party to the ACTA negotiations, but last we checked had not signed on yet, has put out a report from its executive branch, basically completely downplaying the issue of file sharing. The report notes, accurately, that consumers are still spending just as much on entertainment, and lots of it are going to artists. The only real problem seems to be a for a few big foreign gatekeepers who are getting cut out of the new revenue streams… and as far as the Swiss government is concerned, those companies should just learn to adapt. It specifically says that concerns about file sharing having a “negative impact on the Swiss cultural creativity are unfounded.”

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: How many taxes do the pirates pay?

8.3 of 10

Good layout, simplistic opinion asserted as fact.

Your dissembling needs work, try not to make your falsehoods to easily transparent. Attempt to better couch your logical fallacies in more emotional arguments which seem logical.

Keep up the good work. With some improvement, you should end up with a very good grade by semester’s end.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: How many taxes do the pirates pay?

so-called falsehoods? Like ‘pirates pay no tax’? I sure as hell pay taxes, friend. Perhaps not on entertainment goods (free is such a wonderful price point for people like me with no disposable income, isn’t it?), but I sure as hell pay taxes. Be a bit more specific, because simplicities are just corner-cutting, and it surely seems you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: How many taxes do the pirates pay?

@ #5 bob

well said bob! if i could spout as much utter bollocks as you, i wouldn’t bother to do anything else. i am sure i could make a good living trying to convince people that no one wants to pay for anything, that everyone wants everything for free and that there isn’t a single, honest person on the planet (with the exception of your fucked up self, of course)!!

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: How many taxes do the pirates pay?

I noticed that in your screed you left out the most important constituency of all: normal citizens. Normal citizens pay more taxes than any other group. By your reasoning, then, politicians should be doing things with their best interests in mind, not pirates or any given industry. And it’s normal citizens, almost entirely, who are hurt by things like SOPA.

Violated (profile) says:


I think I can see why this is happening.

Hilary Clinton prior to SOPA and PIPA gave two or three speeches on the importance of a free and fair Internet. Then of course the US Embassy in Madrid (controlled by the State Department and Ms. Clinton) forced on Spain their own SOPA-like law using threats of trade sanctions. Not at all good when the country had already shut it down.

So there has been a conflict of interest between what she says and what she does. It is only fair for her to leave if she was forced to go against her beliefs.

It would then not be at all surprising for them to replace her with someone who takes a hard copyright stance and is funded by Hollywood. That would indeed mean darker days as the USA bullies the rest of the world into harsh IP enforcement.

Not at all a good thing where the best we could hope for then would be some global repulsion of copyright but that seems unlikely. So the Internet is at risk along with the State Department’s usual support of Internet freedom.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

out_of_the_average_bob isn’t even trying. Maybe they’re really a poorly realised sock puppet attempt by ‘Mikey’ to ‘pretend’ there is some disagreement on this site to ‘drive’ page views and stop it from becoming a giant echo chamber, Fox-style?

Then again, maybe Dark Helmet really is the Secretary of the Treasury…

Ninja (profile) says:

I signed that petition even though I’m not American. This guy would be a complete disaster. But hey, the US seem to like disasters. After all the subprime collapse and the billions of taxpayers money thrown right back in the hands of Goldman Sachs and the likes Obama STILL appointed Bernanke to a key economic role not to mention many of other Wall Street morons that were mainly responsible for the current recession… So yes, they are worried about freedom of speech and appoint a supporter of a censorship bill.

I’m not surprised if it comes to pass.

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