Top Disney Lawyer To Become Top Copyright Office Lawyer, Because Who Cares About The Public Interest?

from the mickey-mouse-operation dept

People at the Copyright Office seem to get mad at me every time I suggest that the Copyright Office is captured by Hollywood, and pointing out how top officials there all seem to bounce back and forth between the Copyright Office and Hollywood.

That’s not to say there aren’t some good people there, because there are. But the organization is dominated by former (and, if the past is any indication, soon to be again), lobbyists and lawyers of the biggest copyright abusers on the planet. So it’s difficult to take the Office seriously as a steward for the public good (as they are supposed to be), when it’s currently headed by the former top lawyer at IFPI, who, before that, was the top IP lawyer for Time Warner. And, when she then decides to hire Disney’s top “IP lawyer” to become General Counsel of the Copyright Office (as has just been announced), it becomes really difficult not to be cynical.

This is what regulatory capture looks like.

But even worse, actions like this are why the public doesn’t believe in copyright. Over and over again all we see is abuse of copyright, and then the government puts the same people who have abused copyright in charge of copyright at the Copyright Office, it makes the public cynical and (reasonably) distrustful of the intentions of the Copyright Office. That’s disappointing, as there are plenty of people who have expertise in copyright law who would be great for the Copyright Office. But, for some reason, they never get hired into the top jobs unless they’ve spent time working for one of the giant Hollywood or recording industry organizations.

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Companies: disney

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Comments on “Top Disney Lawyer To Become Top Copyright Office Lawyer, Because Who Cares About The Public Interest?”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Its the same magical thinking that screws us time & time again.

The agency that oversees disaster flood claims.
They hired a bunch of insurance wonks to help speed things up.
Problem was no one told the wonks that if the agency ran out of cash it was doing the job correctly.
They stopped paying as much, denied claims, & were all excited they saved money… by screwing people ravaged by floods.
What was supposed to make the agency better made it much worse.

looks at the copyright office
Yes they are dumb enough to think the only qualified people are those who demand more & more law & punishment while allowing the rightsholders to screw everyone & never bear the burden of the costs when they fuck up.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

If the shoe keeps fitting...

People at the Copyright Office seem to get mad at me every time I suggest that the Copyright Office is captured by Hollywood, and pointing out how top officials there all seem to bounce back and forth between the Copyright Office and Hollywood.

To which the response should be simply, ‘If you don’t like the label stop doing everything in your power to show how accurate and well deserved it is.’

Anonymous Coward says:

same old song

"Regulatory Capture" is a routine and very predictable feature of government regulatory agencies.

But it destroys the very "Theory" of government-regulation as being a critical component of control over the inherently evil private economy.

What then is the point of regulation if the regulators are are so regularly controlled by the regulated ??

Critical-Thinking skills seem totally absent in basic analysis of this problem.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: same old song

The point of regulation is to (a) satisfy those who think private firms are inherently evil and need restraint over and above the ordinary rules of honest business (honor contracts, don’t mislead, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t screw people, etc.), while (b) ensuring that the industry is successful and profitable (whether it deserves to be or not), and (c) providing a mechanism to erect barriers to entry to new firms who’d like to lower prices or innovate, which could lead to existing players seeing reduced profit or a lot of work.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: same old song

"The point of regulation is to (a) satisfy those who think private firms are inherently evil and need restraint over and above the ordinary rules of honest business (honor contracts, don’t mislead, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t screw people, etc.)"

You mean, like Eisenhower did?

Yes, private corporations are inherently amoral. Given the opportunity most of them will gladly traffic children if doing so would get them better margins this quarter and it didn’t land them in hot water. We really don’t need more evidence on this by now.

And the thing is, that is how a corporation is supposed to work. The one and only thing they should care about is the profit provided the shareholders.

Take a long, good luck at the US today. Show me one single example where the business model isn’t primarily made of grift. Where a single major company wouldn’t be willing to pour poison in the water mains if it meant raising the Q1 profit.

"while (b) ensuring that the industry is successful and profitable (whether it deserves to be or not)"

I reference 2008-2009. Where lack of regulation resulted in a collapse which suddenly forced two presidents from either extreme end of the aisle to compete in bailing the major industries out because the 401(k)’s of the common citizen was pending on those industries not collapsing. Classical old republicans hauled out the old line about how everyone was a keynesian now.

"(c) providing a mechanism to erect barriers to entry to new firms who’d like to lower prices or innovate, which could lead to existing players seeing reduced profit or a lot of work."

Again, back here in the real world history paints a different picture where, once again, lack of regulations is what has provided businesses the monopoly status carrying the ability to run the newcomers out of business.

I honestly don’t get it, OldMugWump. You people live in the reality which has given all those three assertions of yours the lie.

While europeans, living in incredibly regulated markets, are offered more choice than ever at lower prices and higher quality. Just when did the US begin parroting the blind old propaganda of the USSR about their failing system? Because I know for a fact that as recent as Eisenhower you guys were singing a completely different tune.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: same old song

I’m sorry you feel that way SDM. When you say "private corporations are inherently amoral", you are painting with an extremely broad brush. In 2020 there were approximately 7 million private corporations in the US alone.

I personally own 2 of those and am a major investor (> 10% ownership) in 2 others. One of them I have worked at for the last 15 years.

I assure you that the private corporations I own and work at are not amoral.

Techdirt, where you so often post, is also probably a private corporation. I don’t know who owns it (probably Mike Masnick is among the major owners), but I highly doubt Techdirt would "gladly traffic children if doing so would get them better margins this quarter".

Corporations are nothing more, and nothing less, than groups of people cooperating together to pursue some activity – usually, but not always, a money-making business. They are as moral, amoral, or immoral as the people who own and run them.

Do you think when people cooperate they suddenly and magically become amoral? Do you think it’s inherently bad for people to cooperate? I don’t.

Go pick up a trade journal in any narrow industry – say, semiconductors, dry cleaning, or plastic bag manufacturing. Look at the ads and articles. They’re all focused on delivering real value and real service – hundreds of private corporations, some small and others large, all working hard to offer better products to their industry. You’ll see no signs of deception or fraud – acting that way destroys the reputation that private corporations live on and they know that well.

Don’t judge the millions of private corporations around the world based on the misdeeds of a dozen or two headline-making miscreants.

Sure, some corporations are amoral and run by bastards – in particular I’ve noticed a strong correlation between amorality and management by MBA-holding professional managers who are not major owners. Family-owned private corporations (probably the majority of all corporations, BTW) tend to have excellent morals. (As I’ve said before, the purpose of MBA programs seems to be to train any naturally occurring morality out of the students.)

Regulatory capture is a real and very common thing. Attempts to regulate particular industries are virtually always captured by the regulated industry. This is natural; they have the most interest and most expertise on the subject. Once captured, regulations usually end up imposing rules that look good to outsiders and are bearable by large well-established firms, but which form an impassible barrier for new and small firms. (Funny, that.)

That doesn’t happen when the general and ancient rules of honest dealing are enforced by governments and courts – requirements to honor contracts, to deliver fair value, to advertise truthfully, to avoid harm to 3rd parties and compensate anyone whose rights are infringed by their activities, etc., etc.

The whole economy of millions of businesses in hundreds of different industries is too diverse, has too many competing interests, and is too uncoordinated to "capture" the broad system of laws and courts. That isn’t the case when narrow industry-specific regulations are imposed.

As I’ve said before, I think the general rules of fair dealing are mostly insufficiently enforced, and construed more narrowly than they ought to be (e.g. https://mugwumpery.com/?p=565 ). But regulations usually only make things worse by empowering industries to keep out competitors.

But, please, don’t tar all the millions of private corporations with the broad brush of amorality. Yes, there are a few criminals in every country – but most of us are honest.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 same old song

"When you say "private corporations are inherently amoral", you are painting with an extremely broad brush. In 2020 there were approximately 7 million private corporations in the US alone."

I’ll take a wild guess that he was referring to major corporation and not LLCs that are set up for smaller businesses. But, isn’t the point of an LLC to shield the proprietor from direct legal responsibility for certain things if they go wrong? That does seem at least open to abuse even if not every person abuses it.

"Do you think when people cooperate they suddenly and magically become amoral?"

Again, a guess. But when there’s a conflict between moral actions on a personal level and profit, it does seem that a great many corporations go for the profit.

"Attempts to regulate particular industries are virtually always captured by the regulated industry"

Which is of course why, for example, ISPs that are regulated in Europe always have the same problem with local monopolies writing the laws that cause so many consumers in the US to have little choice in the market that’s regulated, since they’re both regulated. Wait… that’s not true at all…

There’s some rather different and sometimes complex issues at play.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 same old song

But, isn’t the point of an LLC to shield the proprietor from direct legal responsibility for certain things if they go wrong?

The purpose of a limited liability company is to limit shareholders losses to the shares that they hold. It does not protect the officers of the company for legal liability related to their running of a company. That is it offers more protection to hands off investors than company officers, other than protecting personal resources in the event of a bankruptcy, unless, which is often the case with smaller companies, they are being used as security for a bank loan.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 same old song

The 7 million number is the total of C and S corporations in the US – it doesn’t count LLCs, partnerships, or sole proprietorships (tho to be fair the 2 "corporations" I own are both LLCs – I own them for the sole purpose of privacy; I don’t want people to be able to look up in public records who owns a house I’m building for my retirement. So a LLC owns the house.)

When you start with 7 million corporations, it doesn’t take a big percentage to for "a great many" to "go for the profit". My point being that the overwhelming majority of private corporations do in fact behave morally, as that’s what the people who own and run them want to do and correctly believe is in their own long-term interest. If a few thousand corporations ("a great many") do otherwise, it’s far from fair to blame the other 99.9% that are honest and moral.

I’ll say again – private corporations are no more, and no less, moral than the people who own and run them. Most people are fully aware that crime, immorality, and cheating do not pay in the long run. And so they run their businesses honestly out of simple self interest.

A few exceptions run by monsters don’t make that false.

I fully agree that, like most things, this is far more complex than most everyone thinks.

I also agree with SDM’s implication that there are bad actors out there and flaws in our legal systems which allow them to get away with things they ought not to (again see some examples at https://mugwumpery.com/?p=565 ).

But those bad actors are rare exceptions – most private corporations are honest and moral. It is in their interest to be so. It is outrageously unjust to claim that the very structure that allows people to cooperate toward shared goals is "inherently amoral". That is simply false.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 same old song

"I’m sorry you feel that way SDM. When you say "private corporations are inherently amoral", you are painting with an extremely broad brush. In 2020 there were approximately 7 million private corporations in the US alone. "

And every last one of them has, as first priority, making profits. Ethics is something enforced from outside. I have to teach an old american this? Eisenhower, FDR and their contemporaries all knew this.

"I assure you that the private corporations I own and work at are not amoral. "

I work for a fairly major corporation myself and this much I can tell you straight off the bat – if said corporation hadn’t realized that operating ethically was the less costly way it would have continued operating exactly as it’s 100-year history suggests.
Some 99% of US wealth is tied up into enterprises which by and large only give a passing nod to ethics and morals – and then only if the shareholders feel that nod is worth a 0,01% smaller quarterly payoff.

"Techdirt, where you so often post, is also probably a private corporation."

An NGO may be a corporation in some terms but there’s a vast difference in that the resources invested do not come with an expected roi in the form of money.

"Do you think when people cooperate they suddenly and magically become amoral? Do you think it’s inherently bad for people to cooperate? I don’t."

When the end prospect is money? EVERY time sufficient pelf is involved. I dare you to look at the top ten of the US Fortune 500 and name how many of them don’t have a few miles of shady and/or exploitative practices written about them.
Name one major US company with the balls to withdraw from the 1,4 billion-strong market which is China, out of "Humanitarian" concerns. How many lives have been ruined by Big Pharma or the AMA. How well Wall Street tended it’s public trust as revealed in 2008.

When the end product is enough money the operators at the top will be the ones cooperating with money as the primary motivator. That’s logic so basic it takes religious belief and denial to think the free market has actual ideology.

A free market drives prosperity. It does so by leveraging greed and ambition. The exact same way similar successful organizations in medieval europe leveraged these aspects of human nature, the end result of which was never enlightened monarchies and theocracies. Because when scummy behavior is the best and easiest way of doing business, the scum floats to the top.

"Go pick up a trade journal in any narrow industry – say, semiconductors, dry cleaning, or plastic bag manufacturing. Look at the ads and articles. They’re all focused on delivering real value and real service – hundreds of private corporations, some small and others large, all working hard to offer better products to their industry."

Great. Now go look at where 90% of the money is. which is generally outside of the public eye or reach. Small businesses live by word of mouth. Monolithic ones live on being too big to fail.

"Regulatory capture is a real and very common thing. Attempts to regulate particular industries are virtually always captured by the regulated industry."

Only in the US.

I keep saying this because almost every damn time I look at a major market player doing some truly awful shit – like the AMA trying to extort clients until their insurance runs dry, Amazon forcing workers into indentured serfdom, pharma companies hiking prices to a hundred times what they are in Europe…it turns out to be a definitive "Only In America" thing.

Because there’s this religious belief in the US that the free market being the most effective driver of prosperity must also mean it fosters benevolence. It does not, and the rest of the civilized world sees this pretty clearly.

"But, please, don’t tar all the millions of private corporations with the broad brush of amorality. Yes, there are a few criminals in every country – but most of us are honest."

Most of you in numbers of people? Yes.
I submit to you, humbly, that in a saner world that would also mean most of the wealth was therefore ethically sourced.

That, however, is not the case. The vast majority of wealth isn’t handled by small and medium-sized corporations who rely on a good reputation to live. It’s generated by corporations so big they don’t need to care about "reputation" – or even "working business model" – when for a fraction of the cost that would take to amass they can buy a few congressmen and ensure the major shareholders are untouchable by such vagaries as "competitoon" and "fair practice".

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 same old song

[Addendum]

The US has, today, some 2000 companies specialized only in the practices of being consultants for Union Busting. A market niche decidedly bloody unique for the US.

I think you need to face the fact that although a free market may be the only viable driver of prosperity it will need heavy-handed ethics enforcement to come in from outside. Because it will never produce any such on its own anywhere the level needed.

International businesses tend to be the first to learn this and even there I face a lot of cognitive dissonance when I see the conditions my american colleagues work under as compared to my european ones.

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: same old song

Critical thinking skills must be developed at an early age. And wouldn’t you know it, we can point to one "mindset" in Education that destroyed any possible positive outcome in that arena. Yes, I’m talking about the ‘No Child Left Behind’ program. That and standardized testing, meaning that failures are not tolerated, literally killed any chance of teachers paying attention to those kids who might demonstrate an aptitude for ‘thinking things through. Thus we see today an ever-growing percentage of our population consisting of adult-sized toddlers, some of them being orange in skin tone.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: same old song

"Plus, captured regulators impose severe negative costs upon the public."

Seems, once again, to be mainly a "Only In America" problem.

In socialist old europe we somehow ended up with all the "need to have" criteria fulfilled and most of the "nice to have". The US seems to have focused only on the "nice to have" – and that only for those who can afford luxury.

And one of the need to haves that we possess is sensible non-captured government regulation of business.

But to obtain that you also need a government eager to do good enough a job so as to not have to worry about re-election and a body politic eager to cater to the whims of the citizenry rather than the campaign contributors. Neither of which appears to be a possibility in a two party system where the only option other than holding your nose and voting for the ineffective crook is to drop your vote or give it to the horrifying monster.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: I'm worried about their influence to the government office

This is fairly predictable, though. They’ve probably reached the limits of what they can do by continuing to kick the Mickey Mouse can down the road by extending copyright terms, as it’s obvious to even the most casual observer at this point that any further extensions essentially means infinite copyright, and that it’s a very bad thing. So, the next step is to direct affect how copyright is defined and enforced and that’s better done by internal shenanigans than public lawsuits.

This is very much not a good thing, but it’s been on the cards for a long time.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Here We Go Again

"Just like clockwork, you will see yet another Mickey Mouse Protection Act come down the pipeline."

I think PaulIT is on the money a bit further up this thread – the copyright cult knows another extension of copyright is too unpalatable, don’t really need it since they can effortlessly muddle the issue sufficiently about any work to make any attempt to put old Steamboat Willie into public domain implausibly hard, and it doesn’t feather their bottom line appreciably.

Instead they’ll change how the damn thing’s defined and enforced. Instead of retooling the legislation build a captured-from-the-start regulatory body with sweeping enforcement powers backed by the governmental violence monopoly. What need to invoke the DMCA by way of expensive lawyers when a weekly list can provide a "government" agency with targets on which to drop the hammer?

Anonymous Coward says:

is it finally dawning on people that no one gives a fuck about the public, about the customers, instead caring only about ‘the bottom line’, the complete control and using any means (including bribery and corruption) to get and to keep them. i wonder how much longer it’s gonna be before it dawns on the public that everything to do with the entertainment industry, wherever it may be based, to do with copyright and the constantly lengthening terms and equally constant increasing measures being used to enforce it, is actually taking away the internet from the people and from what it was designed for? once it’s gone and these industries get the control they want, it will never be the same and will never come back!

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"But reminder that the Second Amendment is still a thing, even if it’s a shitty way out."

With the soapbox, ballot box and jury box being compromised or having failed the cartridge box looks like the only option left, to be sure. That way lies a terrible end but maybe that is preferable than living a terror without end.

To be quite blunt though, the way things look the fourth box will be opened by the most deranged, maliciously and childish of the US citizenry.

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