Friday, January 23, 2009

CNET agrees with C&C: Obama pokes copyleft in the eye

You read about it first here at C&C, but now CNET makes it official: President Obama's packing of the Department of Justice (and the Vice-Presidency!) with anti-piracy attorneys and their champions is a big blow to his (former?) allies on the copyleft. Writes CNET's Declan MacCullagh:
[T]he elevation of RIAA and BSA lawyers must feel like a poke in the eye to the copyleft and progressive crowd, who spent over a year showering Obama with praise. Public Knowledge called Obama's election an "important" victory, while Free Press lauded it as "a sea change in leadership that allows us to go from playing defense to offense." Stanford professor Larry Lessig--probably the best known "free culture" proponent--went so far as to plead for all of his friends to "do something this time" by voting for Obama over his Republican rival.
MacCullagh also provides a few additional nuggets about the Business Software Alliance, whose vice president of antipiracy and general counsel, Neil MacBride, will be Obama's associate deputy attorney general, and whose duties will include (among many other things) advising on IP policy:
BSA has opposed changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-circumvention section, once saying that legislation to allow backup copies of DVDs or video games would provide a "safe harbor for pirates who could easily claim that the 'intent' of their actions were legal." Early in the campaign, Obama told CNET News that he would support such a law, but hedged it by saying his support was "in concept" only. (He also claimed at the time to oppose retroactive immunity for telcos that illegally opened their networks to the National Security Agency, and we know how that turned out.)
All eyes now turn to Obama's selection of the first White House IP Czar. This is no time to go wobbly.


  1. Ben:

    Are you worried that Obama's going to go wobbly on the IP-Czar? I don't think Obama will appoint an IP-Czar, but if he does, all of these appointments at the DOJ, who have backgrounds with the content industries, do open up a situation that I never thought possible . . .

  2. I do have a bit of concern that the appointment of Perrelli, MacBride, Ogden, and Kris (not to mention Biden) has so enraged the copyleft that they will mobilize to head off appointment of a pro-enforcement Czar. I have no idea if they are actually doing this, or if they would be successful, but if I were a copyleft activist, I would be doing *something* to try to block appointment of a Czar straight outta the entertainment industry.

    I have to disagree with you on *whether* Obama will appoint a Czar. I'm confident he will; after all, the PRO-IP Act, which established the position, just passed last fall, and it would be a real, um, poke in the eye to the law's sponsors, including Sens. Leahy and Hatch, were he to leave the slot vacant.


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.