Wait, I Thought The Next Congressional Copyright Hearing Was Supposed To Be About Hearing From Creators?

from the what-happened-to-that dept

We already pointed out that it appears that the IP Subcommittee in the House Judiciary Committee is taking the exact wrong approach with its next two hearings, in which they are trying to set up a bogus framework of "creators" vs. "technologists" when it comes to copyright reform. The idea was to have one hearing where "creators" talk about how wonderful copyright is and another for technologists to talk about how wonderful innovation is (though that one's not yet scheduled). As we explained, that's a ridiculous dichotomy, because it's not "one side vs the other" here. It's about what sort of copyright policy benefits the public the most. And content creators and technologists shouldn't be opposite each other on that front. Great new innovations in technology tend to help content creators, and an overbearing copyright policy can hurt content creators. The right way to do this isn't to set it up as one vs. the other, but to bring together actual stakeholders and figure out what's the best overall policy.

But, even given this false dichotomy, it seems like Congress is still doing it wrong. They've now released the names of those testifying at the first hearing, the one that's supposed to represent creators, and I'm baffled because there are almost no actual creators -- and there's no one who appears to have any significant experience with using modern technology to enhance creativity. Rather there are only representatives of legacy content industries.

Of the listed speakers, Eurgene Mopsik is an actual photographer. William Sherak, Tor Hansen and John Lapham all work for or own companies that help creators -- a movie production house, a record label/distributor and a stock image company -- but that's different from being a content creator themselves. In fact, you could just as easily include tech company representatives here. If you have movie studios, why not someone from YouTube? If you have a record label, why not someone from Kickstarter or TopSpin? And, finally, you have Sandra Aistars, who is a lobbyist for the Copyright Alliance (a front group for the RIAA and MPAA) which was set up by anti-union lobbyists (hardly the sort of organization that is actually interested in creators).

So, I'm confused. Why isn't the hearing including real creators? It could include folks like Zoe Keating, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Day or many, many other massively successful new artists who recognize that their ability to have a career in music today exists because of the internet. It could include content creators who have lived in both the old world and the new: filmmakers like Ed Burns, musicians like Hank Shocklee, authors like Barry Eisler. Hell, they could even have included a few more content creators who insist that copyright is the most important thing in their lives -- and it would still at least be about actual content creators.

But, as it's set up now, nearly all the people on the panel represent businesses that were set up solely to exploit existing copyright law, rather than to seek out the best ways to promote the progress and to create new content. Why not get actual content creators whose businesses were built up in the last few years under the reality of the internet, rather than these folks who built up businesses, not as content creators themselves, but in funding and managing other content creators under the older rules, and who are now seeking to keep those rules in place, rather than try to adapt to the modern market?

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