Chris Dodd Says The MPAA Loves Helping The Blind; It's Just Not Going To Weaken Copyright Protection To Do It
from the good-guy-MPAA-wants-to-help-but-doesn't-want-to-make-any-real-effort dept
It looks as if the MPAA might be a bit sensitive about its new “enemy of the blind” status, a title it picked up during its lobbyists’ recent visit to the White House. Chris Dodd has penned a slightly defensive op-ed for the Huffington Post defending the MPAA’s
undying support for the opening access to the blind lobbying to keep the status completely quo. Here’s what Dodd is defending (and insisting we’re all misunderstanding):
[L]obbyists for the MPAA and publishers have been all over the White House, demanding a retreat from compromises made in February, and demanding that the Obama Administration push new global standards for technical protection measures, strip the treaty text of any reference to fair use and fair dealing, and impose new financial liabilities on libraries that serve blind people…
To be fair, Chris Dodd doesn’t actually defend these actions. In fact, his very short piece doesn’t refer to the lobbyists’ actions at all. Instead, he claims the MPAA has been a friend to the blind all along, and one of the first to support “accessible-format copies” in “participating countries.”
The MPAA doesn’t have it in for the blind, Dodd says. It’s just a bunch of (unnamed) “groups” falsely painting his upstanding organization as the villain.
Unfortunately, however, some groups have sought to use this meaningful treaty as a vehicle to weaken copyright and ultimately undermine the global marketplace WIPO is charged with strengthening. Such groups have advocated for the inclusion of certain provisions that would establish lower thresholds for copyright protection and weaken certain means used for protecting copyright works. When content owners voiced their concerns with these provisions, these groups attempted to inaccurately portray content owners as being opposed to the treaty.
“Inaccurately,” eh? Well, if they weren’t opposed to this treaty, you’d think something would have been passed by now. The administration took a stand against making exceptions for the blind all the way back in 2009 and ever since then has withheld its approval thanks to pressure from publishers and other content owners. So, while we could say “the administration” is opposed to the treaty, the reality is it’s the content industries making the push.
Dodd says this:
We believe that access for the blind to books and other publications is a cause worth promoting.
But follows it up with this.
We also believe in the fundamental principles of copyright that empower creators and encourage creativity around the world.
“Fundamental principles” obviously don’t include fair use (of which the MPAA is a fair-weather friend) or DMCA exceptions. Then, he drops this disingenuous sentence.
Unlike those who seek to weaken copyright protection, we believe these two objectives are not mutually exclusive.
Nice try, Dodd. These groups you refuse to name don’t believe these two objectives are mutually exclusive, either. Providing access to the blind doesn’t mean destroying copyright, but to certain content owners, any perceived “weakening” is treated as a full-scale assault. The MPAA may state publicly, as Dodd does here, that access for the blind is a “cause worth promoting,” but it (along with major publishers) has shown very little interest in actually following through on this empathetic statement.
Strong copyright laws also benefit consumers by promoting free markets and incentivizing innovation, both of which are hallmarks of a healthy global economy.
“Strong copyright laws” do not promote free markets and actually stifle innovation, so they do not “benefit consumers” (and, obviously, not the blind). If Chris Dodd really wants to do something for the blind, he should use some of that lobbyist power he has at his disposal to lean on the more reluctant members of the copyright industries, rather than join them in defending copyright from all comers — even the blind.