Thursday, April 2, 2009

Copyleft to Obama: Hey -- remember us?

The Obama campaign got early love from the copyleft. Since the election? Not so much. The appointments of former recording industry litigators like Tom Perrelli and Don Verrilli to top Department of Justice slots threw "free culture" types into a tizzy (despite the fact their appointments, and positions, had little or nothing to do with copyright). Now the copyleft has gotten itself organized, with a coalition of copyleft groups like EFF and corporate allies including the Consumer Electronics Association writing a letter to President Obama,
ask[ing] that [his] future appointments to intellectual property (IP) policy positions reflect the diversity of stakeholders affected by IP policy, and that [his] administration create offices devoted to promoting innovation and free expression within the relevant agencies.
As for the appointment of the first White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (the "IP Czar"), the letter appears to acknowledge that Obama will not likely reach into the EFF or Public Knowledge for this pick, because "this position would naturally be more focused only upon certain aspects of IP policy—namely, organizing IP law enforcement efforts." But it does urge the Administration, in making appointments at PTO, USTR, and State, "to consider that individuals who support overly broad IP protection might favor established distribution models at the expense of technological innovators, creative artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, and an increasingly participatory public." (Just "consider"? Not even "oppose"? Pretty mild.) The letter does also
urge [Obama] to create offices in relevant agencies, including at PTO, USTR, and the Department of State, whose dedicated role is to promote innovation and advance the cause of progress in the sciences and useful arts.
Wait -- don't we already have such offices? Various bureaus in those entities work to promote IP-based industries at home and abroad, and to enforce IP rights, which -- in the view of the law and virtually every Member of Congress -- does "promote innovation and advance the cause of progress in the sciences and useful arts."

President Obama is awfully busy these days. I suggest he ask Vice-President Biden to respond.


  1. Personally, I am quite surprised that The Pirate Bay was not a signatory.

  2. it looks like a sham to me. why would anyone representing the public domain concede that the copyright czar's focus should be on IP law enforcement rather than on bringing some semblance of balance back to our national copyright policy and law?


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