Wait, I Thought The Next Congressional Copyright Hearing Was Supposed To Be About Hearing From Creators?

from the what-happened-to-that dept

We already pointed out that it appears that the IP Subcommittee in the House Judiciary Committee is taking the exact wrong approach with its next two hearings, in which they are trying to set up a bogus framework of “creators” vs. “technologists” when it comes to copyright reform. The idea was to have one hearing where “creators” talk about how wonderful copyright is and another for technologists to talk about how wonderful innovation is (though that one’s not yet scheduled). As we explained, that’s a ridiculous dichotomy, because it’s not “one side vs the other” here. It’s about what sort of copyright policy benefits the public the most. And content creators and technologists shouldn’t be opposite each other on that front. Great new innovations in technology tend to help content creators, and an overbearing copyright policy can hurt content creators. The right way to do this isn’t to set it up as one vs. the other, but to bring together actual stakeholders and figure out what’s the best overall policy.

But, even given this false dichotomy, it seems like Congress is still doing it wrong. They’ve now released the names of those testifying at the first hearing, the one that’s supposed to represent creators, and I’m baffled because there are almost no actual creators — and there’s no one who appears to have any significant experience with using modern technology to enhance creativity. Rather there are only representatives of legacy content industries.

Of the listed speakers, Eurgene Mopsik is an actual photographer. William Sherak, Tor Hansen and John Lapham all work for or own companies that help creators — a movie production house, a record label/distributor and a stock image company — but that’s different from being a content creator themselves. In fact, you could just as easily include tech company representatives here. If you have movie studios, why not someone from YouTube? If you have a record label, why not someone from Kickstarter or TopSpin? And, finally, you have Sandra Aistars, who is a lobbyist for the Copyright Alliance (a front group for the RIAA and MPAA) which was set up by anti-union lobbyists (hardly the sort of organization that is actually interested in creators).

So, I’m confused. Why isn’t the hearing including real creators? It could include folks like Zoe Keating, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Day or many, many other massively successful new artists who recognize that their ability to have a career in music today exists because of the internet. It could include content creators who have lived in both the old world and the new: filmmakers like Ed Burns, musicians like Hank Shocklee, authors like Barry Eisler. Hell, they could even have included a few more content creators who insist that copyright is the most important thing in their lives — and it would still at least be about actual content creators.

But, as it’s set up now, nearly all the people on the panel represent businesses that were set up solely to exploit existing copyright law, rather than to seek out the best ways to promote the progress and to create new content. Why not get actual content creators whose businesses were built up in the last few years under the reality of the internet, rather than these folks who built up businesses, not as content creators themselves, but in funding and managing other content creators under the older rules, and who are now seeking to keep those rules in place, rather than try to adapt to the modern market?

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Comments on “Wait, I Thought The Next Congressional Copyright Hearing Was Supposed To Be About Hearing From Creators?”

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Pragmatic says:

Re: Re:

You don’t mean… DUN DUN DUNNNN… yapping anklebiters, do you?

I’m with Mike on this one. Copyright ought to benefit all of us, not a small minority pretending to create or innovate but actually grifting off of real creators and innovators by collecting monies due to them and keeping the bulk of it for themselves.


Karl (profile) says:

Very surprising list

The thing is, from the link you provided to the House website, there are no witnesses other than the ones you listed.

No representatives from ASCAP, BMI, SAG, AFTRA, or AFM. These are all part of the “legacy” business model, and ostensibly represent working artists, but they’re not represented either.

But even more surprising is that the RIAA and MPAA aren’t being represented either, other than by their astroturf organization the Copyright Alliance. You’d think that they’d be speaking to Congress directly, on their own behalf. (FYI, Tor Hansen is listed as representing YepRoc/Redeye, but in fact he is representing A2IM. It’s in the PDF of his prepared statement.)

Instead, we get a bunch of people who represent very, very, very minor parts of the creative industry, by anyone’s standard. It’s like nobody else bothered to show up. The hearing is going to be a total joke.

p.s. I’m reading through some of the testimony right now. I do agree with some of it, but a lot of it doesn’t pass the sniff test. The last few paragraphs of Mopsik’s testimony (pg. 9) are a good example of this.

Ed Allen (profile) says:

When do Pandora and Spotify get to lay out their side ?

What about Hip-Hop and Rap artists telling stories of how the RIAA sued because they used as few as five notes ? Explain to me how an instrument playing snippets of sampled sounds is less CREATIVE than somebody playing an organ or a piano. (Smacks a little bit of, “These youngsters have too durn easy !” with a touch of “Rock and Roll is the Devil’s music !”)

How is this is different than inviting buggy whip makers to set up the rules Radio should exist under ? These, MPAA and RIAA, are companies who have called for every technology to undergo an up/down vote by Congress before it can be deployed ? (Central Planning worked so well for the Soviets after all)

Of course, Jack Valenti proved what great visionaries exist within the MPAA, and the bankrupting of Napster really got people buying albums again didn’t it ?

Of course we must not mention that India, who has very little copyright, has a larger movie business than Hollywood.

Or that Fashion, which has no copyright at all, does more business than Hollywood and all the Record companies _combined_. Whether measured in dollars or in people employed. (And Fashion does not need to include supermarket employees as being in “IP intensive” industries to inflate the numbers)

Ed C. says:

But, as it’s set up now, nearly all the people on the panel represent businesses that were set up solely to exploit existing copyright law.

Seriously, that’s mostly how government works these days. Just about the only ones who talk to congress are those who got money from the status quo and have the desire buy market stagnating laws to maintain the status quo. Otherwise, they would have to actually keep working to earn a living. The real innovators don’t have the time to go to congress, they’re too busy, you know…innovating.

Anonymous Coward says:

there are almost no actual creators — and there’s no one who appears to have any significant experience with using modern technology to enhance creativity. Rather there are only representatives of legacy content industries.

but there are actual creators,

a movie production house

they are creators, they ‘produce’ movies, they also use modern technology to enhance creativity.

why not someone from YouTube?

Youtube does not produce movies, or create the clips that are there.

Youtube is more like a tv station that a movie production house.
It’s clear you don’t have a clue about what you are talking about! Not very journalistic Mike !

So by your logic Pixar is not a movie production house that uses technology or innovation ? Really ?? you expect us to believe anything you say, when you say stuff like this ?

Or do you expect your readers to understand you are free and lose with the truth. That the truth always takes a back door to your personal biases. Good luck on being ever considered a journalist. (let alone “Editor-in-Chief”)..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’m just going to post the bit of the atricle you obviously skim read in the hopes you’ll pay attention this time and not make a tit out of yourself.

“William Sherak, Tor Hansen and John Lapham all work for or own companies that help creators — a movie production house, a record label/distributor and a stock image company — but that’s different from being a content creator themselves. In fact, you could just as easily include tech company representatives here. If you have movie studios, why not someone from YouTube?”

If you lack the ability to comprehend the (simple) point being made here maybe you’d be better off finding a hobby that doesn’t use words…

Alien Rebel (profile) says:

More on the Copyright Alliance

Saying the Copyright Alliance was created by anti-union lobbyists and leaving it at that is being way too kind. I’m morally compelled to add that we’re talking about the Nickles Group LLC folks, Intellectual Ventures’ #1 lobbying firm. In addition to lobbying for IV, Comcast, and AT&T, they also lend a hand to EXXON and Anadarko Petroleum (fracking) Walmart (anti-labor) and the COMPETE Coalition (ENRON-esque utility market manipulation.) Fun fact: it seems that former USTR Ron Kirk and Sen. Nickles are both co-chairs of COMPETE. It’s a small world, after all, . .

Alien Rebel (profile) says:

Re: More on the Copyright Alliance

Correction: in rechecking facts, Ron Kirk was co-chair of the COMPETE Coalition with Don Nickles only through 2009, when Kirk left to become USTR and push for ACTA and TPP, most likely to the delight of his buddy Nickles. He was replaced as co-chair by former Clinton energy secretary Frederico Pena.

Nickles was co-chair of COMPETE up until at least December 2012; however, the Nickles Group has not lobbied for them in 2013 according to opensecrets.org.

Here’s some background related to the COMPETE Coalition–

Anonymous Coward says:

a) no mention yet of when/if the voices of the public will be heard, all be it from groups representing the public

b) perhaps they are scared to have actual creators in case they have no ties to the entertainment industries or Hollywood and then speak about how they have managed to create their business without any ‘assistance’ from the ‘legacy players’!!

if those listening think they wont hear what they want to hear, having been ‘encouraged’ to a massive degree by the industries, then they play safe and leave them out. what the then dont hear cant make sense and cant influence! simples!!

Jasmine Charter (user link) says:

You ARE confused...

The only thing that is confusing, is why YOU are confused that Congress doesn’t know it’s butt from a hole in the ground.

Were you REALLY expecting them to a) Take this seriously with all that lobby money pouring in and b) Have even the most BASIC understanding of intellectual copyright?

Remember, these are the same elected idiots who said about the Healthcare law “We have to pass it so we can see what’s in it”

Same thing… the lobbyists write the bills, give it to their paid flunkies and they pass it.

I’m not sure what’s confusing about that?

Pathetic… yes.
Confusing… no.

Anonymous Coward says:

“And, finally, you have Sandra Aistars, who is a lobbyist for the Copyright Alliance (a front group for the RIAA and MPAA) which was set up by anti-union lobbyists (hardly the sort of organization that is actually interested in creators). “

God you’re a retard. If it was set up by anti union lobbyists why are all of the motion picture industry unions (SAG, IATSE, DGA) members? How about some occasional fact checking ?

Alien Rebel (profile) says:

Re: And, you have Sandra Aistars, . . .

O.K., let’s play. Go to archive.org to see the personnel who originally staffed the Alliance. http://copyrightalliance.org/content.php?id=46

Copyright Alliance Staff, Aug. 13, 2008:

Patrick Ross– came to the Alliance from the Progress&Freedom Foundation. PFF was wrapped up in Newt Gingrich’s troubles back in the 90’s.

Stephanie Badger– Nickles Group lobbyist.

Lucinda Dugger– appears to be the editor of artistsagainstdigitaltheft.ocom, satellite front of the Alliance.

Jeff Murray– Nickles Group Director of Congressional Relations

Gayle Osterberg– Sen. Don Nickles’ long-time staff member and spokesperson.

Andrea Siwek– summer intern

Cindi Tripodi– Nickles Group Founding partner.

Diana Walters– Nickles Group operations manager.

Contributions from Alliance member organizations go to the Nickles Group address. (see LM-2 financial reports to DOL from SAG, Graphic Artists Guild; Form-990 tax returns for MPAA)

The Nickles Group supports ALEC; http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/ALEC_Law_Firms
See the track record of Sen. Nickles for ALEC contributions, support, and other anti-labor credentials; Koch Bros. funding as senator, “right to work” law passed in Oklahoma, current lobbyist for Walmart, rated by the AFL-CIO as among the lowest ever on labor issues.

Rep. John Boehner’s healthcare adviser Emily Porter is now a VP at the Nickles Group.

Your license to use the word ‘retard’ has been revoked.

special-interesting (profile) says:

Two sides of the coin.

There are only two sides to the culture. Creators and Audience. Creative people create various forms of culture through several modern choices of format. The public either loves it and emulates it by incorporating it into their lives or they don’t. Music, Cable/TV shows, Radio, other are shared with the public over various media including Radio, Digital, Internet or even bit-torrent and its either popular or not.

It is tempting to label the content creation chain as Creator → Copyright-monopoly → Audience but that is not culture its called oppression or better yet censorship. Their can be NO controls on any culture if that culture is to be open, free and uncensored. NONE. These are the same basic American cultural values of freedom that the Constitution, and various amendments, was based upon.

Lets face the facts.

If you purchase a song/CD/album/mp3/whatever and you cannot sing it in a public nonprofit affair or even a private party… What good is it? if you get fined/sued or thrown in jail for just singing a stupid song? In few ways does this show up better than with Karaoke. Copyright-monopoly is a crime upon Freedom of Expression.

If you purchased a movie/video/TV-show/etc on DVD/BR and are not able to act our a skit for your school, private party or company Christmas party? What good is it when its a criminal offense? What rational does one use to purchase such a liability risk? Best just to throw them away and not watch them. People are spontaneous, especially when drunk, and to put laws on such makes only for bad experiences. Performance law is a crime upon Freedom of Association.

If something is broadcast over unencrypted public airwaves such as radio or TV the why cant some bar or grocery store show/play that to customers or employees? Whatever news heard over the TV or even the Internet should be fair fodder for any public gathering be it for profit or not. Copyright-monopoly is a threat to Freedom of Speech.

The new rights under attack are Fair Use Rights. What good are Fair Use Rights when you get a bogus take down notice or sued anyway? What threat to the basic rights to use news, ideas, hot current topics and whatever quotes and even melodies in our opinions? Why do we have to worry about blogging being different than paid for press when often bloggers are better reporters than a possibly (even if self) censored media? Copyright-monopoly is a threat to Freedom of Press.

Copyright-monopoly imagines itself as an important part of the creation of culture but in its present form cannot be anything but a limiter and controller of culture. A roadblock to open and free culture based on American citizen’s rational, logical, (or even illogical) whims and fancies. Current copyright-monopoly law is an obvious shame and most likely a business scam in itself.

All monopolies are scams whether they are government sanctioned or not. A short temporary license was imagined by the originators of the Constitution but, possibly because it was wrongly labeled ?copy-right? (-monopoly), it has grown to such out of control proportions that basic human rights as Freedom of Speech/Expression, Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Association have all but been erased.

(Not to get off topic but lets not forget the damage current Drug law has done to property rights and how also victimless/harmless copyright accusations have been enacted with armed raids.) It seems one loss of personal rights compounds another. To be treated like that for basically (what are/should be civil offenses on both accounts) is not a good sign of respect for good and harmless citizens. (possibly written overly politely.)

The copyright-monopoly based industries are drunk and addicted to the funds generated by laws that interfere with the normal cultural growth of American Society. In the same way that one cannot patent Ideas (although the TPP and ACTA are trying to do just that.) copyright-monopoly is trying to profit on the normal functions of healthy culture and society that vitally needs to share information, concepts and such in whatever/however way it feels like.

-rant off-

Congress already getting high off of money from copyright-monopoly industries. This money is somehow squeezed out of American culture and is it a surprising that the new copyright-monopoly biased hearings allows an agenda that perpetuates that? Not at all. Money and power are their own objectives. The spawn of the two are aways evil and twisted beyond imagination.

The RIAA and MPAA have, beyond anything anyone can imagine, given so many signals that they are like criminal organizations that a list of such supporting politicians could serve as a blacklist for voters? (one wonders what the correlation to NSA budget approval and copyright-monopoly favoritism is?) Can the Copyright Alliance (created in the image of RIAA, MPAA, other) be anything less corrupt? Possibly more corrupt?

In light of the obvious shenanigans (way to polite) of the RIAA and MPAA would not this new Copyright Alliance be some sort of circus sideshow shell game to keep their obvious taint obscured? These things usually are effective when dealing with the public and Congress.

Forgotten mostly in these talks is are the Creators but the Audience not even mentioned. In not one talk, speech or article is the fact that culture is only a two sided coin. More importantly; Nowhere is the fact that copyright-monopoly is a roadblock and limiter to open, free culture and society! If this is not the MAIN topic then these talks have no cultural meaning (thus no meaning) to America society at all!

Its more likely another disguise for a new tax, toll or monopolistic overcharging. What is at steak are laws that make it a crime to speak, listen or just snap a picture. Sound silly? Most have/are/don’t pay attention to such details till they pay the fine, the scurrilous demands of lawyers or sit in jail. Since these are already current law things can only get worse under the current regime/legislators/policymakers/two-party-system/bureaucracy/monopolies/u-name-it.

Since the only included speakers are media distribution and copyright-monopoly business based…

Can we expect more laws that allow indiscriminate lawyers to effectively rape average citizens for their cultural choices and preferred media choices? Likely.

Can we expect more censorship in the name of copyright-monopoly’s ever greater need to fund their already huge political donations/bribes? Obviously.

Can we expect respect for our cultural choices and the society that results? Not likely at all. Culture is how we live our lives and share with other what we learned or think is cool. Sharing culture with our acquaintances and friends must be considered as good as it is healthy.

Can we expect more reductions in Fair Use Rights including crushing the faint hopes of the Deaf and Blind? Certainly. (One would thing at least one shred of kindness and decency exists but this does not seem to be the case.)

Can we expect further copyright-monopoly industry theft from the already greatly diminished Public Domain Rights? Surely Perpetuatal copyright-monopoly terms longer than the lives of its Audience/Listeners has no cultural value at all. (to the Audience/Listeners)

(Was the word ?Rights? used to often? No way!)

Interesting TorrentFreak article by Rick Falkvinge on choice of words: http://torrentfreak.com/language-matters-framing-the-copyright-monopoly-so-we-can-keep-our-liberties-130714/

Is copyright-monopoly even worth having at all?
What is culture and its worth anyway?

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