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US Copyright Czar Cozied Up To Content Industry 162

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-some-folks-working-together dept.
Nemesisghost writes "According to emails obtained via a Freedom of Information request, the U.S. Copyright Czar played an important role in brokering the deals between ISPs and copyright holders to punish subscribers whose IP addresses participated in copyright infringement. From the article: 'The records show the government clearly had a voice in the closed-door negotiations, though it was not a signatory to the historic accord, which isn’t an actual government policy. ... [T]he communications show that a wide range of officials — from Vice President Joe Biden’s deputy chief of staff Alan Hoffman, the Justice Department’s criminal chief Lanny Breuer to copyright czar Victoria Espinel — were in the loop well ahead of the accord’s unveiling. "These kind of backroom voluntary deals are quite scary, particularly because they are not subject to judicial review. I wanted to find out what role the White House has played in the negotiation, but unfortunately, the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) withheld key documents that would shed further light on it," Soghoian said when asked why he sought the documents.'"
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US Copyright Czar Cozied Up To Content Industry

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  • No Surprise Here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Friday October 14, 2011 @02:30PM (#37716728)
    Many government officials go on to become lobbyists. She's just laying the ground work for her next (and much better paying) job.
    • by nicholas22 (1945330) on Friday October 14, 2011 @02:32PM (#37716752)
      Change you can believe in right? I'm not a republican, or even American. But it's business as usual in Washington DC.
      • From now on I'll keep in mind that any politician's slogan is likely to turn into a punch line.

      • Business as usual in Washington

        I'm surprised that this information could be obtained in the first place. Due to the overwhelming "Me Too" culture in Washington this is par for the course. It wasn't always like this though.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Well, typically once in office, "Change you can believe in" quickly becomes "Dollars you can believe in". The other way of looking at it is that those in Washington DC are just following the Golden Rule: Whoever has the gold makes the rules.

      • You do realize that there is no smoking gun here. Just that people got emails that regard this deal before the deal was public.

        This only adds up to something if you have conclusions in search of facts.

      • by Solandri (704621) on Friday October 14, 2011 @05:23PM (#37718540)

        Change you can believe in right? I'm not a republican...

        There's a tendency for people who visit slashdot to oversimplify and equate Democrat=good and Republican=evil. The truth is much more complex. In particular, The movie, TV, and record industry has always been squarely behind Democrats [opensecrets.org], and the publishing industry shifted that way [opensecrets.org] during the Bush years (scroll down to the Party Split graphs).

        This isn't a Democrat administration doing something with a copyright issue which you'd never expect, something you'd only expect from a Republican administration. It's a Democrat administration doing exactly what you'd expect it to do with a copyright issue. If you voted for Obama expecting him to side with the people instead of copyright holders, you need to do a better job researching political contributions next time. We have wonderful tools now which make it dirt simple compared to 15 years ago when we had to have it spoon-fed to us by the media, and you're remiss not to take advantage of them.

        Personally I think it was the right choice - banking and finance reform was more important. But I knew it would mean copyright would shift the "wrong" way (in favor of content producers).

        • But I knew it would mean copyright would shift the "wrong" way (in favor of content producers).

          Yes, that was my fear as well. Once this is in place, I would expect the media companies and their front organizations to stop bitching about online infringement and to stop suing people. But they won't: that's too big a moneymaker in its own right, and they like being able to make threats and intimidate people. They had also better start show record profits, since all those thousands of billions of dollars in lost sales will now suddenly start appearing in their bank accounts.

          Right?

    • by jandrese (485)
      It's worse than that. Which industries are most interested in Copyright issues? The media? That's great, now who gets to decide which stores are going to get full blown 24 hours news coverage, and which are going to slip under the radar? This is why copyright reform is doomed, politicians need the media, and the media companies have only a few simple demands for them, guess what they are.

      With newspapers dying out, it seems the only hope for independent journalism is the internet, but good luck getti
  • Politicians serving the industries instead of the public...news at 11
    • That's why the Wikileaks cables were so important; they showed us that the US embassies around the world spend 75% of their energy in brokering for US big corp, instead of representing the people that pay their salaries.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday October 14, 2011 @02:31PM (#37716736)
    And you're surprised by this why...? Because it's BHO instead of GWB? Get real!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 14, 2011 @02:31PM (#37716744)

    And people wonder why we are currently protesting in the streets over corporate greed and its manipulation of our nation's ideals?

    • GREED:
      Governments and Rich people Exploiting Everyone to Death

    • by capnkr (1153623)

      And people wonder why we are currently protesting in the streets over corporate greed and its manipulation of our nation's ideals, while steadfastly refusing to admit to ourselves that our man Obama is nothing more than a puppet perpetuating the very things we think are wrong in the system, or that his administration is just as bad as the one which went before. So we have a plan to Change things by holding signs which speak out against the actions of Obama's principal campaign donors, and getting the MM to show us at 5 and 11, in the Hope that maybe just maybe he will finally do those things he promised us he would do, but until now has just lied about [youtube.com]. Think it will work?

      There, FTFY.

      • by Nickodeimus (1263214) on Friday October 14, 2011 @03:48PM (#37717524)
        Ask the Egyptians. I believe the fall of their government this year was presaged by the 99% standing in a square in their capital city for weeks.
      • And people wonder why we are currently protesting in the streets over corporate greed and its manipulation of our nation's ideals, while steadfastly refusing to admit to ourselves that our man Obama is nothing more than a puppet perpetuating the very things we think are wrong in the system, or that his administration is just as bad as the one which went before. So we have a plan to Change things by holding signs which speak out against the actions of Obama's principal campaign donors, and getting the MM to show us at 5 and 11, in the Hope that maybe just maybe he will finally do those things he promised us he would do, but until now has just lied about [youtube.com]. Think it will work?

        Congratulations for the perfect definition of the Liberal disease of Cognitive Dissonance.

        • Because cognitive dissonance is only found among liberals (which, I suspect, is everyone you disagree with)? Right..... As long as conservatives continue to put out this kind of moronic and juvenile nonsense, I'll keep voting for the at least well-intended evil.

    • and the message being spread "officially" is anything but what many think it is. Go read their home page and you will see demands that government do this, that, and that, to all sorts of parties. Yet you see no demands to get government off the backs of people - all they want is it on the backs of people they don't like.

      I am all for people demonstrating their displeasure at the ballot box, we have a working democracy (republic) because we respect the system. It certainly needs an over haul in parts but not

      • by Hatta (162192)

        we have a working democracy (republic) because we respect the system

        We don't have a working democracy, that's the point. If we did, we'd have a government that's run in the interests of the 99.9% of us, and not the top 0.1%.

        Really, go read their site, the other day the first five or so WE WANT (I mean these guys come off as "WE ARE, THEREFOR YOU OWE US) were to use the oppressive power of government even more.

        Yes, we're asking the government to do its job and actually protect us. That means more laws, and

      • by Microlith (54737)

        the message being spread "officially" is anything but what many think it is

        I wasn't aware there was an "official" anything with these protests.

        Go read their home page

        Someone set up a website related to the event and posted something on it. That does not make it the "official" website.

        we have a working democracy (republic) because we respect the system

        No, no we don't. You can see it in the broken partisanship and the pro-corporate laws that get pushed constantly.

        Of course, I have no problem with using govern

    • And people wonder why we are currently protesting in the streets over corporate greed and its manipulation of our nation's ideals?

      You should be protesting right in front of The White House.

  • by milbournosphere (1273186) on Friday October 14, 2011 @02:36PM (#37716776)
    Excuse my language, but this is way messed up. When are we going to enact legislation that disallows this kind of crap while in office, and prevents officials from going from their current position to a lobbying position so quickly? The corruption is becoming so blatant that it makes me want to punch every congress-critter and official I see in the face.
    • Re:This is Fucked (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tekrat (242117) on Friday October 14, 2011 @02:51PM (#37716948) Homepage Journal

      You're assuming that "we" can enact legislation. "We" cannot. We can only elect representatives that "we" hope will represent our interests.

      But that's not the way it works anymore. Those guys that make legislation only seem to represent big corporate interests, because that's who's funding their re-election campaigns. Then they use that money to make TV commercials that lie to us, telling us to vote for him so he can represent us. Then, when we stupidly elect him, he goes and screws us, and enacts legislation for the interests that really got him re-elected, which is big money.

      So "we" really have no voice in government at all. "We" cannot enact legislation, "we" are only subjects to the king and queen -- i.e. big companies.

      • America has the best government money can buy.

    • Re:This is Fucked (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Freddybear (1805256) on Friday October 14, 2011 @02:53PM (#37716968)

      When? Never. The foxes will never vote themselves out of the job of guarding the chicken coop.

    • by alexo (9335)

      When are we going to enact legislation that disallows this kind of crap while in office, and prevents officials from going from their current position to a lobbying position so quickly?

      Never.

      Since the legislators directly benefit from "this kind of crap", it is not in their interest to outlaw it.

  • No sarcasm intended, but why is it a big deal when the US government is working with the two entities most closely related to the issue of US laws being violated?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 14, 2011 @03:18PM (#37717198)

      Well, for me it is because:

      1. The government is way over-invested in protecting copyrights. They have a role to play, but it should be limited to providing the venue for litigation and enforcement of rulings. I don't want to pay copyright-holder's cost-of-doing-business unless I've actually purchased their products - not with my tax dollars.
      2. The ISPs previously had no involvement whatever in the copyright issue. That's how it should have stayed. I don't want to pay the copyright holder's cost-of-doing-business by paying my ISP more either.
      3. The executive has completely forgotten that it represents ALL of us, not just its favorites. That includes the copyright czar. If she is involved, she should be representing *we the people*. I don't know how she can "broker a deal" between ISPs and major copyright holders (read: not even all of them...) and do a good job for the rest of us, too. I don't think that's possible.
      4. This policy affects all of us, but we have no say because it's two multi-corporate interests meeting in secret with the executive branch (see #3 above) to form an agreement which will, in effect, be law.

      Why is the executive involved at all? Because just like the copyright holders, it wants to shift the costs of enforcement (which it has taken upon itself, mind you) onto someone else. Hello, ISPs!

      • Copyright infringement is not a criminal offense UNLESS it's done on a commercial scale. The government should not be involved in policing this illegal activity except when it is investigating commercial copyright infringement via the FBI. The definition of commercial copyright infringement is infringing for the purposes of personal gain, typically in a monetary fashion.

        Therefore, the government should not be involved in individual copyright infringement at any level outside the judiciary, where civil m
        • You need a new lawyer, google 17USC506. Other sections of the law define other roles for the USG as well.

        • by cdrguru (88047)

          The problem is, once you open up copyright infringement to the planet on the Internet, it is always on a "commercial" scale. We stopped talking about friends swapping floppies 20 years ago. Now you post something on the Internet and everyone on the planet gets to take advantage of it.

          Now, if the objective is to destroy the revenue model for any and all digital goods it is working fine. When I can grab a book, movie, music or software for free because "I want it" without any worries about getting tracked

    • No sarcasm intended, but why is it a big deal when the US government is working with the two entities most closely related to the issue of US laws being violated?

      That's like asking why the National Labor Relations Board is stacked with former union heads and works so closely with those unions. The other side, whether it be consumers or employers -- and even employees themselves -- have no seat at the table. Tell me now that's fair representation?

    • The other issue is that, if you read the article, there is no smoking gun.

      All it says is that they were aware of the deal before it was public and were concerned about the spin.

    • by Ltap (1572175)
      This is circular logic. If you are the one responsible for creating the laws, are you then allowed to justify arresting people for breaking them "because it's illegal"? You are assuming a fairness which does not exist.
  • Well duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday October 14, 2011 @02:39PM (#37716808)

    When this guy was appointed, was there any doubt in anyone's mind that his SOLE responsibility would be to act as a shill for the big media industry? It's not like anyone believed for a second that he was EVER going to represent consumer interests or the rights of the general citizenry.

    Sadly, that doesn't make him any different than the Congress or President. Hell, even the Supreme Court is ruling [nytimes.com] that corporations have a *right* to bribe as many public officials as they like. If you want to find someone representing the unwashed-masses-without-lobbyists, you'll have to turn to the EFF. The U.S. government is just a corporate subsidiary now.

    • It is a chick, not a dude. Just FYI.

    • by houghi (78078)

      The public could protest, but they get their daily doses of fast food and tv [wikipedia.org]

      • Thank you for that enlightening post! I would also point to the fact that Americans have a lot more circus than just TV, though. Many in the middle class can afford nice cars, homes, running water, electricity, cable TV and Internet, smart phones that have higher monthly costs than water and phone combined, and we still manage to spend significant chunks of money on eating out and other entertainment. Sure, I make 1/1000th of what the CEO's that are getting the huge bonuses are getting, but on the other
    • by artor3 (1344997)

      "[The government] was not a signatory to the historic accord, which isn’t an actual government policy"

      I know it's fun to bitch and moan, but try to at least read the whole summary first. A couple government officials who are involved in copyright were kept in the loop regarding private deals between the media companies and ISPs. We have no idea what their role really was. But Wired has an email in which an administration official says [correcting her horrific AOL-style spelling]:

      "Could talk for 15

  • Instead of accepting bad copy paste jobs directly from the articles you're linking to, how about doing some editing. Like, who the hell is Soghoian? That'd be something to establish in your blurb.

    • Like, who the hell is Soghoian? That'd be something to establish in your blurb.

      "According to emails obtained via a Freedom of Information request....Soghoian said when asked why he sought the documents." Just a shot in the dark, but I'm going to guess he's the one who sought the documents. Could be wrong though...

  • Their page is being troublesome, can anyone view the actual emails and post the juicy bits? From the article it seems like the copyright czar is working with people concerned (and being dicks about) copyright. No real surprise there. So there has to be more.
  • #occupyhollywood (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 14, 2011 @02:47PM (#37716888)

    Time to expand the #occupy movement to Hollywood (actually, the RIAA and MPAA HQs are in Washington DC).

  • With all of the corporate money in politics, I am shocked that this is the way things work. And by "shocked" I mean "not surprised at all."

    We really, really, really need to get lobbying and corporate money out of our government.
  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Friday October 14, 2011 @03:13PM (#37717146) Homepage

    I long suspected the Obama Administration was the one behind the recent agreement between ISPs and the content industry. I'm sure ISPs would prefer to decide on their own which users it is best to keep and which it is best to drop, so the fact ISPs reached any kind of deal with the content industry was a puzzle with a missing piece. It turns out that missing piece was the US Copyright Czar.

    I suspect the same thing about recent efforts to shut down domain names: You have Congress pushing for PROTECT IP, DHS shutting down allegedly infringing domains without a trial, and Verizon out of the blue and for no apparent reason deciding to incorporate policies similar to those of PROTECT IP which would better allow DHS to shut down domains it considers infringing. That is the sort of thing that suggests a coordinated effort rather than mere coincidence.

  • News at 11.

    Occupy!

  • by Belial6 (794905) on Friday October 14, 2011 @03:27PM (#37717302)
    Why are people not up in arms about anyone being called a Czar in our government. A Czar is royalty. We should all be screaming about anyone in our government being declared royalty.
    • Why are people not up in arms about anyone being called a Czar in our government. A Czar is royalty. We should all be screaming about anyone in our government being declared royalty.

      Really? Because a bureaucrat in charge of a particular area is called a "Czar"? This isn't actually new.

      I'm not commenting on her job performance, but pettiness over semantics like this is why the Rs and Ds can drive a wedge between Americans.

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Because it's just a bullshit Republican talking point? The so-called "Czars" are just nicknames for positions with long, tongue-tying titles. We've been using the term since the days of Nixon. It's only when the GOP decided they sooner burn down the country than let someone else lead it that they decided to start a fuss about the nicknames.

      • Because it's just a bullshit Republican talking point? The so-called "Czars" are just nicknames for positions with long, tongue-tying titles. We've been using the term since the days of Nixon. It's only when the GOP decided they sooner burn down the country than let someone else lead it that they decided to start a fuss about the nicknames.

        Not true at all. These unelected, unconfirmed, czars are being given unconstitutional powers never seen in any previous administration either Republican or Democratic.

        • Bullshit. A czar by definition has no budget, which means he/she has no power. The only thing they can do is hold meetings, and move information around. That alone can be a lot of power - but it certainly isn't unconstitutional to have meetings.

    • by Bucky24 (1943328)
      Whoa wait is that her real title? Czar? I thought it was just a nickname....
  • "We will achieve our goal of making this administration the most open and transparent administration in history" ... "Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard in the policymaking process," - President Obama

  • No a surprise (Score:4, Informative)

    by andydread (758754) on Friday October 14, 2011 @04:12PM (#37717810)

    Joe the moron Biden has been a copyright industry shill since his senate days. He as sponsored all kinds of draconian copyright bills [tinymixtapes.com]with the likes of Berman, Dodd, and Hatch, but Biden is the ring leader. Its disgusting really. Then there is Orin Hatch this moron wanted to install software on our computers to monitor us for copyright infringement and destroy our computers [theregister.co.uk] if the software thought we were infringing.

    The problem is that no one cares and copyright is not an election issue so we are all screwed.

    • by imric (6240)

      Yup. Biden would have been reason enough to vote for someone other than Obama. Problem is, the alternative was - and if we were presented the same choice today - still is FAR worse - I'd rather not have the Right 'finish the job' - looting and destroying the economy of the West, while converting us into a theocratic state, thankyouverymuch.

  • by Edmund Blackadder (559735) on Friday October 14, 2011 @04:29PM (#37717970)

    I think this really tarnishes the dignity of his royal personage. A US Czar should not be personally involved in such shady deals. He should have sent one of his boyars to do it. Or at most a low level copyright Knyaz.

  • ...they just cozy up to different industries. Republicans favor raw materials and insurers,Democrats favor the entertainment and tech industries. They both suck up to big pharma.

    It used to be that when a new party came into power, they'd spend a couple of years investigating the corruption in the previous administration before getting deep into the trough themselves. Nowadays the waiting period is over. Corruption is the one thing they DON'T attack each other over, except on the campaign trail.

  • the cozy back room deal is probably a lot worse for consumers than we realize.

    I'm 70, and there was a time in my early life when Federal agencies upheld their mandate to protect the consumer from greedy or corrupt corporations. Now, the Feds protect the greedy, corrupt corporations from the wrath of of the consumers whom the corporations abused.

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