Chris Dodd Says The MPAA Loves Helping The Blind; It's Just Not Going To Weaken Copyright Protection To Do It

from the good-guy-MPAA-wants-to-help-but-doesn't-want-to-make-any-real-effort dept

It looks as if the MPAA might be a bit sensitive about its new "enemy of the blind" status, a title it picked up during its lobbyists' recent visit to the White House. Chris Dodd has penned a slightly defensive op-ed for the Huffington Post defending the MPAA's undying support for the opening access to the blind lobbying to keep the status completely quo. Here's what Dodd is defending (and insisting we're all misunderstanding):

[L]obbyists for the MPAA and publishers have been all over the White House, demanding a retreat from compromises made in February, and demanding that the Obama Administration push new global standards for technical protection measures, strip the treaty text of any reference to fair use and fair dealing, and impose new financial liabilities on libraries that serve blind people...
To be fair, Chris Dodd doesn't actually defend these actions. In fact, his very short piece doesn't refer to the lobbyists' actions at all. Instead, he claims the MPAA has been a friend to the blind all along, and one of the first to support "accessible-format copies" in "participating countries."

The MPAA doesn't have it in for the blind, Dodd says. It's just a bunch of (unnamed) "groups" falsely painting his upstanding organization as the villain.
Unfortunately, however, some groups have sought to use this meaningful treaty as a vehicle to weaken copyright and ultimately undermine the global marketplace WIPO is charged with strengthening. Such groups have advocated for the inclusion of certain provisions that would establish lower thresholds for copyright protection and weaken certain means used for protecting copyright works. When content owners voiced their concerns with these provisions, these groups attempted to inaccurately portray content owners as being opposed to the treaty.
"Inaccurately," eh? Well, if they weren't opposed to this treaty, you'd think something would have been passed by now. The administration took a stand against making exceptions for the blind all the way back in 2009 and ever since then has withheld its approval thanks to pressure from publishers and other content owners. So, while we could say "the administration" is opposed to the treaty, the reality is it's the content industries making the push.

Dodd says this:
We believe that access for the blind to books and other publications is a cause worth promoting.
But follows it up with this.
We also believe in the fundamental principles of copyright that empower creators and encourage creativity around the world.
"Fundamental principles" obviously don't include fair use (of which the MPAA is a fair-weather friend) or DMCA exceptions. Then, he drops this disingenuous sentence.
Unlike those who seek to weaken copyright protection, we believe these two objectives are not mutually exclusive.
Nice try, Dodd. These groups you refuse to name don't believe these two objectives are mutually exclusive, either. Providing access to the blind doesn't mean destroying copyright, but to certain content owners, any perceived "weakening" is treated as a full-scale assault. The MPAA may state publicly, as Dodd does here, that access for the blind is a "cause worth promoting," but it (along with major publishers) has shown very little interest in actually following through on this empathetic statement.
Strong copyright laws also benefit consumers by promoting free markets and incentivizing innovation, both of which are hallmarks of a healthy global economy.
"Strong copyright laws" do not promote free markets and actually stifle innovation, so they do not "benefit consumers" (and, obviously, not the blind). If Chris Dodd really wants to do something for the blind, he should use some of that lobbyist power he has at his disposal to lean on the more reluctant members of the copyright industries, rather than join them in defending copyright from all comers -- even the blind.

Filed Under: chris dodd
Companies: mpaa

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    special-interesting (profile), 29 Apr 2013 @ 6:09pm

    These talks and actions acts don't seem to add up to what Dodd is saying about them. Any 'strengthening' that includes victims like the blind people's cultural network of resources built up over the years despite such a handicap risks harming a fragile community. Copyright law is at the level of out of control already.

    Chris Dodd is proposing to destroy good culture. Many blind people have joined society and lead valuable lives using and benefiting from the blind community's support. Careless legislation eliminates and destroys opportunities presently enjoyed and used.

    The phrase “not one shred of human decency or kindness” seems to be applicable here. Commercial exploitation does have limits that are measured by a society's determination to keep a strong hold over such attempts to take away, by legislation, valuable parts of those lives.

    First off we have a presently horrific copymight system that doesn't help create new works, hinders new work in technology and innovation, stifles culture and chokes society in ways that more resemble communist dictatorships than just a law or act. For a senator to think that such a system needs strengthening? Definitely he took the, plug me into the matrix, blue pill.

    Metaphorically speaking. The shinigami grim reaper copyright cultural death scythe wielding salespersons are definitely busy buzzing around capitol hill plying their ruinous societal and culturally lethal copyright wares. They use only the best well honed cigarette augments money and lawyers can buy. (You'll love it! Just do It'll feel goooooood. what we Need a loan? say)

    “[L]obbyists for the MPAA and publishers” The MPAA would sponsor ill advised legislation that makes 90% of Americans criminals just to collect a few pennies. (already have done so?) How low is that on the stupid legislation list? Copyright now rivals the drug criminalization laws of government intrusion into the lifestyles and culture of citizens. Just for Dodd to mention that he listens to these groups brings up many doubts on his ability to lead.

    This sort of self perpetuated hype is to be ignored. What difference does is make when the proponents of legislation themselves note that they are proponents. For Dodd to pompously worried about 'nothing much' is on the lame side. It does bring one to wonder how well this legislator has been spooked by these very special interest groups. Nothing good can come from listening to the media lobbyists who are obviously not worried about stepping on blind peoples lives.

    Its just grandstanding in ways to hopefully generate an artificial viral-ness. Usually these groups are clever and avoid an obvious gaff like hitting on defenseless social groups.

    It strains all belief when anyone says that the MPAA (or any media special interest group?) is or has been friendly to the blind. Such attitudes devalue the institution of congress to such a level. In the MPAA's mind a small donation to any blind group might, to them, satisfy the destruction of a meticulously and lovingly created support network. (Books for the Blind)

    Its never a good sign when personal action does not meet the tale. Tall tales are meant for drunken parties and other events where fiction is the venue. The fiction spouted by Chris Dodd about the benefits of copyright to the blind might allow his nose look somewhat over extended.


    Much is washed about both strengthening and reducing copyright law. Law is supposed to make sense in terms of the everyday lives of its citizens. They are not supposed to be intrusive nor overly strong most notably if there are civil solutions they should be used first.

    Copyright reform goes both ways. What is also universally important is the effects on the populations culture and society. Any argument for or against copyright must include discussion about these. Without law/legislation put in to context with the very way we live and want to live (culture and society) then such talk is meaningless. Baseless arguments (like the above Chris Dodd spat) only.

    Of course its worth mentioning the unfair way 'exceptions' are treated over time as loop holes. Fair Use clauses are similarly marginalized. What good is Fair Use without the Rights added to it? Fair Use and Public Domains need to be fully enshrined as rights.

    Its so easy to forget what we need to defend.

    If there was no copyright tomorrow so what? Books will be sold. Authors will be paid for new works. Newspapers will be read. Eventually some clamber might rise up to propose a new original works protection scheme with expectant short term lifespan and fair use elevated to Fair Use Rights status (not some silly exemption shmemption weak assed terminology).

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.