Wednesday, April 22, 2009

BREAKING: IP Czar will be...'the right person'

More from yesterday's MPAA-sponsored "Business of Show Business" event in Washington yesterday. From a speech by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke:

Let me state further that when U.S. goods and services containing intellectual property arrive in world markets, they should benefit from basic safeguards similar to those they enjoy at home.

The cost of counterfeiting and piracy to your companies and to our nation is billions of dollars in losses and hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

The recent revelation that an illegal copy of the upcoming movie “Wolverine” had been posted on the Internet prior to its theatrical release underscores the problem the industry faces.

I’ve seen examples of this sort of piracy on the streets of China during my many visits there each year. I’ve walked past the stands of counterfeited movies.

Our ability to trade in a rules-based system around the world is critical to your success and our economic success as a nation. And as a former prosecutor, I believe in the full and impartial enforcement of the law.

The Obama administration is well aware of the impact of counterfeiting and piracy on our industries and workers, and we’re working to combat it.

And from CNET's Declan McCullagh:
Vice President Joe Biden lauded Hollywood at a gala dinner in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday evening, assailed movie piracy, and promised film executives that the Obama administration would pick "the right person" as its copyright czar.
"It's [piracy is] pure theft, stolen from the artists and quite frankly from the American people as consequence of loss of jobs and as a consequence of loss of income," Biden said, according to a White House pool report.
McCullagh also writes, "On copyright, President Obama has signaled a more pro-industry approach than his predecessor, which has alarmed advocates of less restrictive laws," citing the appointment to top DOJ slots of several attorneys who represented copyright owners while in private practice, and its intervention in the Joel Tenenbaum case to defend the constitutionality of statutory damages. As I've explained before, I think this notion that the Obama Administration is somehow taking a new, pro-copyright tack that was missing from previous administrations is about 99% pure hype. The former entertainment industry litigators appointed to DOJ simply won't be spending much, if any, time on copyright matters (and were probably appointed for reasons that have nothing to do with copyright), and the Obama administration's position on statutory damages is exactly the same as the Bush Administration's.

Still, I can't imagine that some of these people were too thrilled about the rhetoric at yesterday's events.


  1. The comments by Vice President Biden are strange. The administration has been careful -- like all administrations -- to wait for opportune moments to release what may be political unpopular moves. And Biden should know this: wasn't his selection released around midnight at the beginning of a long weekend? I don't really see why the administration would want to ratchet up expectations on an appointment.

  2. Same Anonymous as above here with a possible explanation. President Obama may be sending out his Vice President so that when the appointment is made, Biden -- who already has an established pro-industry lean -- takes some of the "heat." I'd expect an IP Czar appointment soon, probably within the week.


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.