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 @ 7:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Of course it isn't a zero sum game, but since there is only so much economic pie, when China takes a bigger slice it comes off of someone else's plate. It's only in the second step (that China is currently entering) where their domestic market grows enough to increase the pie.

    Until there was a way to trade overseas easily, everything in the US was made in North America, or just about. Shipping was expensive and time consuming, such that local and regional production was key.

    However, wages, benefits, and all that comes with it in the US have made manufacturing almost impossible for many items. It is cheaper to sell the raw material to China and buy it back finished than it is to make it locally. When that happens, the manufacturing jobs leave and go where it is cheaper to get the finished product.

    We hate to lose the jobs, we love Wal-Mart. Self defeating actions, I guess.

    The world uses more steel than ever, but it doesn't come from the US. The world consumes more shoes, shirts, and all manner of household goods than ever, and effectively none of it is made in the US.

    Until the US gets wages down to the level of matching places like China, Thailand, India, and even Mexico, they jobs won't flow back. We the people don't want to pay $150 for a coffee maker when we can buy the Chinese made one for $40. You can't change those basic facts.

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