Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Should we be "surprised" if Obama doesn't throw bones to the copyleft? Yes!

Instapundit says it's "no big surprise" that Obama would choose a music-industry-friendly litigator like Tom Perrelli for a high Justice Department post, because, after all, he already chose an industry-friendly Vice President, and the entertainment industry supports Democrats financially.

But Instapundit's post assumes that Perrelli's work for the RIAA actually played some role in his nomination. Yet I've seen nothing to indicate that, and I highly doubt it's true. Rather, Perrelli was chosen because he's a smart litigator who already knows his way around the Justice Department; as his bio indicates, during the Clinton Administration he served as "Deputy Assistant Attorney General, supervising the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division, which represents virtually every federal agency in complex civil litigation." So he's eminently qualified to be Associate Attorney General. And I'm sure it didn't hurt that Obama and Perrelli were both in the class of 1991 at Harvard Law School, where Perrelli was Managing Editor and Obama President of the Harvard Law Review. These guys go way back.

But even accepting Instapundit's premise that Perrelli's appointment is somehow a reflection of Obama's true views on IP issues, actually, I do think we have some reason to be surprised. There were, in fact, early indications that Obama was a friend to the copyleft. Just take a look at copyleftist-in-chief Larry Lessig's blog post explaining his support for Obama. Lessig rejected Hillary Clinton precisely because (among other reasons) he didn't like her views on copyright:
You can almost see the kind of tiny speak that was battered around inside [Clinton campaign] HQ. "Calling for free debates might be seen as opposing copyright." "It might weaken our support among IP lawyers and Hollywood." "What would Disney think?" Better to say nothing about the issue. Better to let it simply go away.
(I actually agree with Lessig on the debates issue he's referring to, but that's another story.) And Lessig praised Obama for supporting
the issues closest to me. As the technology document released today reveals, to anyone who reads it closely, Obama has committed himself to important and importantly balanced positions.
Of course, the "issue closest" to Lessig (until his recent switch in focus) has been the fight against what he views as over-strong and over-long copyright. And the Obama campaign even featured Lessig's words of praise when it announced its technology platform.

So, contra Instapundit, I actually do think it's fair to be a bit "surprised" if Obama doesn't throw a bone or two to his supporters on the copyleft. But the real test is yet to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments here are moderated. I appreciate substantive comments, whether or not they agree with what I've written. Stay on topic, and be civil. Comments that contain name-calling, personal attacks, or the like will be rejected. If you want to rant about how evil the RIAA and MPAA are, and how entertainment companies' employees and attorneys are bad people, there are plenty of other places for you to go.