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Obama Nominates RIAA Lawyer For Solicitor General 463

Xiph1980 writes "President Barack Obama on Monday nominated former Recording Industry Association of America lawyer Donald Verrilli Jr. to serve as the nation's solicitor general. The solicitor general is charged with defending the government before the Supreme Court, and files friend-of-the court briefs in cases in which the government believes there is a significant legal issue. The office also determines which cases it would bring to the Supreme Court for review. Verrilli is best known for leading the recording industry's legal charge against music- and movie-sharing site Grokster. That 2003 case ultimately led to Grokster's demise when the US Supreme Court sided with the RIAA's verdict."
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Obama Nominates RIAA Lawyer For Solicitor General

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:27AM (#34993570)

    I can understand the argument that he wants the most vicious shark in the tank to be his attack dog. I might could even buy the argument that this WASN'T just another in a long line of examples of Obama prostrating himself before his Hollywood and entertainment industry patrons. But, it seems to me that he could have found an attack dog that was just as vicious who didn't come with RIAA baggage. To hire someone whose such an obvious enemy of much of the online community and such a lapdog of the entertainment industry seems specifically designed to send a message to his patrons that he's definitely in their pocket. It's the judicial equivalent of Eddie Cicotte hitting the first batter in the 1919 World Series [wikipedia.org].

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Your first thoughts mirrored mine exactly. He want's a good lawyer first if he'll be defending the government in court. Not sure how this makes him their "lapdog." How does this benefit the RIAA or recording industry as a whole? When was the government directly implicated in a case involving the recording industry?
      • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:36AM (#34993716) Homepage

        You assume people stop being corrupt greed-mongers when they switch jobs. Funny guy!

        • You assume people stop being corrupt greed-mongers when they switch jobs. Funny guy!

          This is a non-sequitur. Does his past mean that he's going to start suing copyright infringers on behalf of the US government?

          • yes it does (Score:4, Informative)

            by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:45AM (#34993852) Homepage Journal
            just like how other appointments in his administration turned out to be.
            • Exactly. The time is long past where we can make assumptions that he's different from anyone else in Washington or has anyone's best interest in mind besides himself and his power base.

              Not much hope nor change in aligning with the RIAA, Barack O'Quisling
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Pojut ( 1027544 )

                I still believe that he honestly thought he would be able to accomplish everything he was saying on the campaign trail in 2007-2008...but then once he was elected, he realized how impossible that would be.

                Not saying that's right, I'm just saying that he did seem truly genuine back then.

                • Re:yes it does (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:18PM (#34995182) Journal

                  As a foreigner watching US politics with interest, I have to agree. What bothers me is that he doesn't even seem to be trying to improve things. He hasn't fought very hard for anything, and he's backpedalled (preemptively!) on many HUGE issues like closing Guantanamo Bay.

                  It's an uphill battle, no doubt, and he's facing some relatively popular whack-job Republicans, but dammit, he needs to FIGHT a bit.

                • Not saying that's right, I'm just saying that he did seem truly genuine back then.

                  "Sincerity is important for a politician. Once he can fake that, he's got it made."

          • Probably not, but that doesn't prevent him from steering the gov't even further into corporatism, on behalf of his old "pals" who haven't stopped their regular deposits into his retirement account.

          • You assume people stop being corrupt greed-mongers when they switch jobs. Funny guy!

            This is a non-sequitur. Does his past mean that he's going to start suing copyright infringers on behalf of the US government?

            So when you're doing shit toward citizens at your previous jobs, you should be appointed a new job with a huge responsibility towards million of citizens, and the said citizen should "give you a chance"?

            I call that madness

            This reminds me of OSS117 Cairo nest of spy, a french comedy:

            the nazi: that's funny, it's always the NAZIS who are the bad guys. We're in 1955 herr Bramard, we can have a second chance thanks ?!

          • I think in terms of how he will sell out. How will he sell out the people of the US? Maybe the RIAA will start suing the US for some crazy reason, and he'll just give in. I don't understand the system, but it will cost the tax payer. I guarantee it. The consumer will lose also.

            You're asking a question like, "Well, why would oil tycoons get involved in politics? How do they benefit the taxpayer?". I don't understand why they are supposed to benefit the taxpayer.

            I know that I made my point in the first paragr

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Aryden ( 1872756 )
        "Amicus Curiae: Literally, friend of the court. A person with strong interest in or views on the subject matter of an action, but not a party to the action, may petition the court for permission to file a brief, ostensibly on behalf of a party but actually to suggest a rationale consistent with its own views. Such amicus curiae briefs are commonly filed in appeals concerning matters of a broad public interest; e.g., civil rights cases. They may be filed by private persons or the government. In appeals to th
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AvitarX ( 172628 )

        Considering recent international treaty negotiations (ACTA) I think it's fair to say the US Government has strong feelings on issues re: RIAA.

        I think this appointment supports that premise.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Obama is better than W only because he has a normal IQ. As to his politics, he's a corporatist who's broken enough campaign promises (close gitmo! Stop military tribunals of suspected terrists! Get out of Iraq! End welfare for the rich!) to lose 3 re-election bids. Nonetheless, I'll probably have to vote for him because the other side will be running some jackass like Palin, Pawlenty or Bachmann, and letting them get within 3 miles of the White House would be disastrous.

      • by shuz ( 706678 )
        Ya sure, Minnesota just don't make http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Mondale [wikipedia.org] presidential candidates like we used to don'tcha know.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        (ah, our 'morning rage' article. alright, lets get on with it.)

        you are correct that obama has a significantly better IQ, speaking ability and also does not wear his religion like a badge of honor. he had potential and we looked forward to the upgrade from the bumbling idiot to a well-spoken thinking person.

        so, what happened? did the office corrupt him (obama)? is it the case of 'the office makes the man' and no matter how well-intentioned you may be, maybe so much power corrupts and no one can say no.

        • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @11:39AM (#34994534) Journal

          I feel the same way and would only vote D just to keep the R's away. I do NOT want D's; I want less R's.

          Wow. If people think this way, then I've just thought of a way it could be exploited. All I would have to do would be to pick what I wanted to happen and have it supported by group A, and then just make sure that alternative B was horribly worse. For added refinement to stop people getting wise to it, I could divide up what I wanted to achieve between both A and B and alternate which appeared worse.

          Phew. I'm glad no-one else has ever thought of that. Can you imagine what America would be like if they had...?

        • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:00PM (#34994932) Journal

          What is funny, is that you think there is substantial difference between (D) and (R), to the point of thinking one is less dangerous than the other. The problem is that both are extremely dangerous to Liberty, just in different areas. You may not care about what liberties the (D) are taking away, but I do. I'm equally concerned with the Liberties that the (R) are talking away.

          When you overlook the deficiencies of one group (D) because you fear the deficiencies of the other (R), you're equal to those you despise on the other side, who do the exact same things in reverse.

          Lets look at the TSA under Obama and his leadership, which is, as far as I'm concerned 10 times worse than anything Bush did, not that Bush wasn't dangerous (he was). The real danger is that Obama is only 1/2 though is first term, and has potentially six more years to screw with us. Bush is no longer here, and no longer scares me.

          By Focusing on how horrible Bush was, while ignoring that Obama has for all intents and purposes kept Bush Era rules around and even extended them, does us all a great disservice.

          Suffice it to say, Obama scares me more than Bush does. And if he doesn't scare you more than Bush you're living in a delusion. One last point, I love how people think Bush was an idiot, while simultaneously thinking he is brilliantly evil and draconian. I see the left making the same mistake with Palin, while ignoring how stupid Pelosi / Reed seem to be at times. NONE of these people are stupid, they are all just Evil.

          To Flip a saying I use occasionally: Any sufficient level of malice is indistinguishable from incompetence.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by cold fjord ( 826450 )

        Obama is better than W only because he has a normal IQ.

        By which you mean he agrees with your politics.

        Bush graduated from Yale, earned a Harvard MBA (the only president with an MBA), and few fighter jets for the military. Say what you want, but nobody was in the cockpit with him flying for him. Apparently he was also an avid reader [washingtonpost.com]. Although it is a bitter pill, Obama is carrying on a number of Bush policies since they make sense given the alternatives.

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          Both Yale and Harvard kept him as a student WELL after the would have let other student go.

          Add t that there are plenty of people with average IQ the graduate from both institutions. And getting an MBA? not exactly a tough trick.

          His piloting skills where mediocre, when he bothered to show up. and again, flying a fighter takes training, not supreme IQ.

          Avid reader? so what. I know a lot of avid readers. It's a pretty meaningless statement in an era where every topic has 1000 authors. Yeah, you have to be a gen

        • by Nadaka ( 224565 )

          The alternative to viewing Bush as bumbling idiot is to view him as an utterly evil malevolent genius manipulating everyone and getting away with it. I find that easier to believe for Dick Cheney, than for pot smoking, hookers and blow, c average student (after the standard graft and cheating for his class) that got to a cushy guard assignment from daddy while being groomed for an office he was never qualified for.

        • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

          The Ivy League has a long and sad history of...ahem..."exceptions" made for the wealthy, politically-connected, and famous. Basically--if you're a movie star, the son or daughter of a well-known U.S. politician, or the son or daughter of someone with a lot of money to donate to the school--you're in. They probably don't even check your SAT's. If you ever want proof of how stupid you can be and still get into the Ivy League, go listen to Brooke Shield's commentary track on "The Blue Lagoon" sometime. She's a

          • You think Natalie Portman (and all those other ditzy celebrities) and most of the Kennedy himbos and bimbos actually EARNED their way into the Ivy League?

            With many celebrities you'd have a point, but Natalie Portman? You're picking on one of the few celebrities who has an Erdos number.

      • FFS, if he's no good then don't vote for him. If the other celebrity politician is no good, don't vote for them either. Vote for someone else! As long as everyone keeps voting for the same shite politicians, you get the same shite politicians. Is that so hard to understand?

        And, as for the argument "But if I don't vote for D, then R may get in office", it's totally moronic and possibly something they invented to narrow down their chances to 50%. Other parties are running for office. People better start payin

      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @11:17AM (#34994278) Homepage Journal

        I'll probably have to vote for him because the other side will be running some jackass like Palin

        There's more than one other side. You can vote Litertarian, Constitution, or Green. If you buy into the unintelligent argument that voting for any other party besides Reps and Dems is a wasted vote, than all those votes for McCain were wasted, because HE LOST and you voted for a loser!!! See the idiocy here?

        If you smoke pot you're a fool to vote Democratic or Republican; they both want you in jail. If you're a foe of the media cartels you're almost as much a fool to vote for them, because the MAFIAA owns both parties. A vote for a Democrat or Republican is a vote for multinational corporation control of the government.

        Now, if you're a corporatist, Republicans and Democrats are both good choices. If you're for human liberty, neither is.

        • by wurble ( 1430179 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @11:28AM (#34994394)
          I would agree with you if we didn't have a first past post system. If we had instant runoff or some other similar multi-vote system, then your theory could work. However in first past post, any third party serves only to act as a spoiler for the party closest to them. As such, libertarians tend to act as spoilers for the Republicans and Green tends to act as spoilers for the Democrats.
          • by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @11:47AM (#34994696) Journal
            It doesn't matter. The only logical ways out of the trap are either break the two party lock by voting for someone else, or reject the current democratic process. As the only legal method of rejecting the current process is to get third parties into power which is the problem you're trying to solve, that only leaves illegal means. So basically if you ever want this to change, you're facing a choice of voting your principles or revolution. Do not let it get to the point where it has to be a revolution.

            If people start voting their principles, then third parties may only get 5% this year, but that makes it easier to get 6% next year. When people see it's rising, more people vote for it. Then you've got 7%, which encourages more people to vote. Then one year, you wake up and you've changed things.

            If America is worth fighting for, then accept it's going to take more than one battle. If you lose a few, it doesn't matter because you're gaining ground. You have to try.
            • by Frequency Domain ( 601421 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:24PM (#34995282)

              The only logical ways out of the trap are either break the two party lock by voting for someone else, or reject the current democratic process.

              False dichotomy. You can also work within the system to any number of varying degrees, which involves being willing to compromise.

              I actually think your post is indicative of a huge problem in American politics today. More and more people are advocating a rejection of democracy when they don't get their way.

            • It doesn't matter. The only logical ways out of the trap are either break the two party lock by voting for someone else, or reject the current democratic process.

              Personally, I reject the current democratic process. Emphasis, probably, on current, but still.

              I said in another comment on another story that democracy isn't a meritocracy. That is literally the elephant in the room; everyone knows, nobody says anything or cares. I believe it comes from the founding of america when preventing the union from dissolving into warring states was a billion times more important than ability to govern; considering we only had one civil war instead of becoming another Europe, I

      • I should make this a moment for my 'I hate dubya, but he's not dumb' speech, but maybe another time.
        It is sad that we can't vote out someone who is as bad a liar as Obama because the alternative is Palin. Obama is a politician -- sneaky, and needing to do different from what he says for his own agenda -- but Palin and her ilk are beyond a joke. They've become a nightmare because people are so divorced from reality that they really think MILF status is enough to become leader of the country (and, historicall

      • by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @11:28AM (#34994390)

        Nonetheless, I'll probably have to vote for him because the other side will be running some jackass like Palin, Pawlenty or Bachmann, and letting them get within 3 miles of the White House would be disastrous.

        People who keep voting for the "lesser of the two evils" are exactly why we keep ending up with politicians who are only slightly better than their competition, but still tremendously corrupt. It is the "third parties have no chance" (not that you necessarily displayed that in your post) attitude that prevents third parties from ever winning, not the fact that they are third parties. Instead of voting for the lesser of the two evils, vote for someone good, and encourage others to do the same so that hopefully we'll be able to break this cycle sometime in the future.

      • by qmaqdk ( 522323 )

        The Republicans might actually be playing this angle on purpose. Think about it. They've gotten tax cuts under Obama that they couldn't get under Bush, and if (or when) it causes a deficit meltdown Obama will take the blame. Running Palin or any of the other ... candidates is a complete win win for them. If Palin wins who knows what will happen. If Obama wins they can keep voting in reckless bills and have the Democrats take the blame for it.

        Just wait and see what happens with Social Security.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by h4rm0ny ( 722443 )

      To hire someone whose such an obvious enemy of much of the online community

      The "online community" now consists of just about everybody other than your grandparents. And actually in my experience, includes large numbers of grandparents at that. Don't think you're speaking on behalf of "the online community" when you take a position pro-copyright infringement. At least I assume that is the position you are taking when you refer to him as an "enemy"?

      • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:41AM (#34993790)

        Actually, my position is more anti-DRM and pro-privacy. I buy every piece of my media legitimately, mind you. So it's not piracy I'm defending--it's my right as a legitimate consumer to be protected from big media companies intruding on my rights and my privacy because they assume I'm a pirate by default (and want to use the government to help them trample on my rights).

        • Problem: if you pay for your media, you are giving financial support to the pro-DRM, anti-privacy MAFIAA.

    • An attorney's view (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sonny Yatsen ( 603655 ) * on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:52AM (#34993938) Journal

      You know, as an attorney, we're hired to defend vigorously the position of our clients or their interests. That doesn't necessarily mean we advocate for that position as private individuals, or that we are incapable of striking a fair position. The only thing that should matter as a nominee for a Solicitor General position is whether she can diligently represent the government's position, and that is all.

      • by Buelldozer ( 713671 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @11:36AM (#34994502)

        You're asking us to risk unknowable amounts of damage to the digital freedom of the entire nation for who knows how long on the _hope_ that Mr. Verrilli won't continue to assist his former industry if he becomes Solicitor General. I'm sure it's a sweet deal for Mr. Verrilli but what's the American public getting that makes this risk worthwhile to us?

        Frankly, and please don't take this personally, your profession suffers from an image problem and for a variety of very good reasons people don't trust Attorney's. Why should Mr. Verrilli be any different?

        No, Mr. Verrilli should be rejected and someone else should be found. Preferably someone without such strong ties to such a litigious and morally corrupt industry.

      • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )

        That's what you're supposed to behave like, yes. However, I can't shake the feeling that when you're so closely involved with a certain viewpoint for an important period of time, your own perspective is bound to be influenced.

      • Another one of those +1 Heartbreaking posts.

        Instead we got the Alumnus of Sued By the Bell, now in The Government Years.

    • People need to wake up to the reality that most Democrats, almost all Republicans, almost all Tea Baggers and almost all Libertarians who stand any chance of being elected are really members of the same party. They work for the corporations and the elites to suck every one else dry. The differences between them are just theater to distract us from the reality that we do not live in a democracy and they are screwing over us and the rest of the world. It is high time to get serious about organizing against th
    • First - you'd be surprised how few people in the "online community" actually care about RIAA's rather slimy doings. Those who do care do so with passion -- which makes their numbers seem much larger than they are, especially if you're in the category of those people who care. (Perfect example to demonstrate this: Ron Paul supporters.)

      Second: do you think that RIAA lawyers do what they do out of some moral conviction regarding the evils of filesharing? I strongly suspect that they're like people everywhe

      • -1 Niemoller

        First they came for the file sharers, but I didn't care because I wasn't sharing. Then the Copyright Brigade came for pictures in news articles ...

    • by Wuhao ( 471511 )

      Why would I want a vicious shark to be an attack dog? It just seems like I either have a suffocating shark, or I was very confused about my requirements when I went looking for an attack dog.

  • ...prepare to be disappointed.

    • To be fair, when he said it was "Time for a Change" he didn't specify that it was for your betterment

  • Whoever said "Justice is Blind" was a real idiot.

    "The office also determines which cases it would bring to the Supreme Court for review. "

    This'll surely stop moneysharks from randomly suing people without enough evidence.

  • Hey, just trying to keep mak'in a few bucks here! Nothing to see here move along, move along.
    It would be super though if we saw more people in high government positions that didn't have such a strong history of supporting one view or another. On the other hand is does help the informed voter understand where our government's views are at.
  • by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:42AM (#34993810)
    Having successfully argued in favor of leveling million-dollar fines against people for downloading a handful of MP3s, he's clearly uniquely qualified for defending insane positions that cannot be rationally argued with anything but emotion.
    • He was not RIAA's in-house counsel, responsible for all of their litigation strategy. He is a "generic" litigator with a wide-ranging practice. He did happen to represent the RIAA in the Grokster case, which was not, in any way, related to the verifiably insane suits against individuals.

      In case you hadn't noticed, when somebody bring a lawsuit, they are going to be represented by somebody, and that somebody does not necessarily agree with the positions they argue on behalf of their client.

  • Inaccurate Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Grond ( 15515 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:46AM (#34993858) Homepage

    Verrilli was not, as the summary implies, a lawyer who worked exclusively for the RIAA. Verrilli worked for Jenner & Block [jenner.com], one of the larger law firms in the US. The recording studios were one client of many, and it does not appear that he had a habit of representing studios. Judging by his significant Supreme Court experience [google.com], Verrilli represented a wide variety of clients, including indigent criminal defendants, a federal employee who alleged he was discriminated against because of his age, insurance agent trade groups, wireless telecommunications companies (against the FCC), Coors Brewing Company (arguing against a state law forbidding the display of alcohol content on beer), citizens alleging violations of their voting rights, and the American Libraries Association (arguing against the Communications Decency Act of 1996) .

    That's a broad set of clients, including a lot of litigation against the government, which is what the Solicitor General handles. It is absurd to impute an agenda to an attorney based on one case, and Verrilli seems qualified for the job of Solicitor General.

    • I would mod you up informative, but I have no mod points. Thanks for the info!
    • He led the case against Grokster, and according to Wired he also led the Viacom vs. YouTube case! While I'm sure his career extends to other things as well, those are two of the largest copyright cases of recent years.
    • by eepok ( 545733 )

      Thanks Grond! This is genuinely useful information. I am better for knowing it.

      I have no mod points today and you're already at a (5, Informative), so this is all I can offer you for your quick and thorough work.

  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mopomi ( 696055 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @10:59AM (#34994034)

    So, someone represented a company that has different ideas than you do...and that's a problem because?
    Do /.ers really believe that their employer is their sole identity defining characteristic?
    Are all of you who work for asshole-bosses also assholes?
    It sure seems that that's what you're all saying when you go on these witch-hunts.

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @11:00AM (#34994044)
    I think we should look into WHY they chose him. He represents the government in front of the supreme court. His specialty is copyright law. What sort of laws or decisions do you think the administration will be enacting in the near future that they thought they'd need his services? It looks like Obama's getting ready to be challenged in court. We should expect so new draconian policies regarding the internet in the near future.
    • by Grond ( 15515 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @11:12AM (#34994216) Homepage

      His specialty is copyright law.

      Not particularly. As you can see from the Wayback Machine copy of his Jenner & Block profile [archive.org], "Mr. Verrilli concentrates his practice on Supreme Court and appellate litigation, telecommunications, and First Amendment and media litigation....Mr. Verrilli has argued many cases in the federal courts of appeals and in state supreme courts on a range of issues, including cases involving copyright, constitutional law (involving the First Amendment, the Takings Clause and the Bill of Attainder Clause), statutory construction, administrative law and criminal law....He is an adjunct professor of constitutional law at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he has taught First Amendment law for the past 14 years."

      Copyright and media litigation were only a small part of a wide-ranging practice.

  • by sirwired ( 27582 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @11:14AM (#34994230)

    This guy was NOT the RIAAs chief counsel, or responsible for their litigation strategy against individuals. He is a lawyer who has litigated a wide range of cases, most of which have absolutely bupkis to do with the entertainment industry. In fact, it is probably his broad expertise that led to him being appointed to the job. Yes, he was the litigator for the Grokster case, which he won. I don't see how this makes him a slave to the entertainment industry. Both sides of a case are entitled to be represented by counsel; in this case, he happened to be representing a side we, Slashdot, don't particularly like.

    Just because a lawyer represents one side of a case does not mean they approve of everything (or even anything) a client does. Are we also going to claim the lawyer representing the maniac from AZ is on the side of "letting psychotic killers go free?"

  • Yet more "Change I can believe in."

  • by cigawoot ( 1242378 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:19PM (#34995194)

    Lawyers are paid to represent their CLIENT's interests, not their own. This guy could have personally disagreed with the RIAA and the Supreme Court's ruling, but as an attorney you are obligated to represent your client in the best possible manner.

    I'm pretty sure a defense lawyer for Jarad Loughner personally believes her client is guilty and should get the chair for his crimes, but she's still obligated to defend her client as best as possible.

  • by osu-neko ( 2604 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2011 @12:48PM (#34995708)
    He's going from defending the RIAA to defending the government. His clients get scummier every year... :p

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.