Senator Tillis Holds Secret Meeting With IP Maximalists To Discuss A Single US 'IP' Agency
from the that-would-be-a-problem dept
Senator Thom Tillis is chock full of bad ideas about copyrights and patents — mostly focused on making things worse for the public by expanding the monopoly powers granted to patent and copyright holders. So I guess it comes as little surprise that he held a secret meeting that appears to have only been attended by copyright maximalists to talk about trying to merge the Copyright Office into the US Patent & Trademark Office.
In a previously unreported meeting Friday, staffers from the office of Sen. Thom Tillis, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, met with representatives from across the content industries to discuss consolidating America?s three main IP regulators into one sprawling, catch-all agency.
?I think we could look at the organizational structure and ask questions about what?s the most effective way of doing it,? Tillis told National Journal on Tuesday. ?At the end of the day, I want a fair, predictable, and lean IP apparatus?whether it?s patents, trademarks, copyrights.?
Tillis spokesperson Adam Webb said in a statement that the senator ?hosted initial meetings on creating a unified, independent intellectual-property agency and on how to resolve online copyright piracy.? Webb said 35 participants attended the two Friday meetings, which he stressed were preliminary in nature and not guaranteed to result in new legislation.
It seems weird that, if you were exploring such a thing that you wouldn’t bring in folks outside of the copyright maximalist industries, but apparently that’s of less interest to Tillis?
The idea of “consolidating” the Copyright Office into the PTO has long been a dream for many copyright maximalists — mainly because they’re extraordinarily upset that the Copyright Office is a part of the Library of Congress, and they hate the fact that the Librarian of Congress sometimes wants to actually live up to the mission of making sure that copyright is there to “promote the progress” of learning. They’d much rather it be connected with the USPTO, which is under the Commerce Department and clearly designed to be in the interests of the big companies that control it.
It’s already kind of a travesty that the PTO is one agency for both patents and trademarks, since those two things serve extraordinarily different purposes. Trademarks, again, are supposed to be a form of consumer protection — making sure that when you’re buying something from a certain company, you’re aware of who really made it, and aren’t being tricked into buying a copycat. Patents, on the other hand, are supposed to be (though rarely are) about incentivizing innovation. Copyright is supposed to be for the encouragement of learning. It’s just that over the centuries, certain industries have bastardized all three to pretend that they’re about helping a few giant businesses collect as much monopoly rent as possible. Tillis shouldn’t be helping that.
About the only reassuring quote in the piece comes from Mitch Glazier, who now runs the RIAA, but got his initial job at the RIAA just months after he snuck four words into an unrelated piece of legislation that effectively took away the ability of musicians to get control over their works (enabling the RIAA to have much greater control). In the article, Glazier worries that a consolidated agency would focus too much on patents at the expense of copyrights:
Glazier said his office is ?agnostic? about the notion of a unified IP agency, but noted it could kick off a turf war between the three agencies. He also said a single agency could end up focusing largely on patents?far and away the greatest moneymaker?to the detriment of key copyright issues.
Still, there’s literally no need for this move to happen at all, and I don’t understand why Tillis is exploring the idea, nor why he is holding secret meetings with the copyright industry to try to get their buy in.