IP Czar Report Hits On All The Lobbyist Talking Points; Warns Of More Draconian Copyright Laws To Come

from the oh-great dept

We had serious questions from the beginning about Senator Patrick Leahy's "ProIP" bill, which was pushed very strongly by the lobbying group, the US Chamber of Commerce, using widely debunked stats to claim that there needed to be an "IP Enforcement Coordinator" in the White House. Yet, as we explained, such a position makes absolutely no sense. Even "pro intellectual property" folks noted that the law was anything but "pro intellectual property." Instead it was pro-legacy business structure. So giving a role in the White House to someone whose sole job is to protect legacy business models is the very definition of regulatory capture. And while the IP Enforcement Coordinator, Victoria Espinel, has been kind enough to personally reach out to us multiple times since taking on the job, in the end she still sees her role to be protecting legacy industry jobs, rather than (as the Constitution requires) making sure that intellectual property promotes the progress.

Given the level of regulatory capture, it's no surprise that Espinel's first report on the "progress" of her strategy reads like a checklist of what the big IP lobbyists wanted. Not surprisingly, the US Chamber of Commerce, who misled Congress to create this role in the first place not only cheered on this new report, but also urged Espinel and the White House to go even further in passing even more draconian, legacy industry-protecting legislation.

And that appears to be coming. Within the report, there's a note that new copyright laws are on their way "in the near future."
The U.S. Government must ensure that intellectual property laws keep pace with changes in technology and the practices of infringers. As part of a process initiated by the IPEC, Federal agencies reviewed existing laws to determine if changes were needed to make intellectual property enforcement more effective. The initial review began shortly after the release of the Joint Strategic Plan and was completed within 120 days. The IPEC will include legislative proposals identified in that review in a White Paper on legislative recommendations that the IPEC expects to submit to Congress in the near future.
It's not difficult to read between the lines. Considering that it was US Chamber of Commerce lobbying that created this role in the first place, and now she's discussing new laws, to then see the Chamber of Commerce immediately announce it was "ready to work with Congress and the administration" on increasing IP laws, you can bet that the laws in question have already been written mostly by such lobbyists, and we should see them soon. Protectionism, protectionism all around.

That's not how to create innovation. It's how you prop up obsolete businesses at the expense of innovation.

The rest of the report, which is embedded below, just shows the sad state of affairs of industries who won't adapt and can't compete, abusing the legal process to put up barriers to new technologies, abuse the free speech and due process rights of those who actually innovate, and celebrate stagnation as a strategy for innovation. It's a depressing document all around. It celebrates the international joke that is the Special 301 report from the USTR. It mockingly celebrates "increased transparency" from an administration that supported the massively secretive process behind ACTA (which the document also cheers on), which only now we've confirmed was always about holding back developing nations rather than increasing innovation. Not surprisingly, the report cheers on the illegal seizures of domain names, despite the likely prior restraint and due process violations those seizures entailed. It ignores the international incidents created by seizing domains of sites declared legal in their home countries. And, of course, nothing in the report discusses new business models or how decreased IP enforcement has resulted in greater creative output, more opportunities for content creators, and new innovation throughout the world.

In other words, the report is a complete joke. Reports like this are incredibly frustrating, because they simply highlight how our government has been taken over by special interests who have no desire to actually improve the country, but merely to protect a few powerful lobbyists and the corporations that support them.

What bothers me the most, frankly, is that nowhere does the report make even the slightest attempt to support any of its assertions that greater IP enforcement is actually good for the economy. There are tons of evidence that this is not true, and yet Espinel repeats the claim as if it's proven fact. This is unfortunate because she does know better, but I guess appeasing special interests is more important than actually working to promote progress and improve the economy.

Filed Under: copyright, enforcement, ip czar, ip enforcement coordinator, protectionism, regulatory capture, victoria espinel


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Feb 2011 @ 10:03am

    Re:

    "What is happening is what I have mentioned in other threads: The US government is becoming more and more aware of the huge economic impact of piracy, and the impacts of the loss of IP to countries with weak protections (or none at all)."
    1. What scientific source do you have for the impact of piracy? Any? Or how about the economic reasons for these laws?
    2. Strong local, in country, protections do nothing when other countries with lower protections exist in a global economy.
    "The US is not a producer nation of hardgoods for the most part anymore, the US is a producer of IP, of the most desired music and movie content in the world, and generally a leader in all things that would fall under copyright. "
    Wow, you have zero idea of what you are talking about. The US is still the top producer of goods. China though growing is at second and will be still years before they overtake the US. And by GDP, music and movies are basically nothing.

    "They are hit by the double whammy - erosion of the internal market (through piracy and such inside the US) and the erosion of the non-entertainment IP through non-protecting countries basically stealing it outright." Translation: So basically companies that rely on ideas and are not innovating or uncompetitive are suffering because of poor business models.

    "In the end, changes are coming because of economic reasons, not because of a few lobbyists." False. Demonstrably so. There is little to no economic reasons for these laws as Mike stated. There is proof that millions have been contributed by the RIAA/MPAA. Follow the money.

    "If it was only for lobbyists, abortion would be entirely illegal, pot would be entirely legal, and everyone would be packing a pistol at all times." Well abortion and pot lobbyists don't exactly have millions to contribute to politicians. And last I heard in the US you have the right to bear arms.

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