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Ernest Miller Ernest Miller pursues research and writing on cyberlaw, intellectual property, and First Amendment issues. Mr. Miller attended the U.S. Naval Academy before attending Yale Law School, where he was president and co-founder of the Law and Technology Society, and founded the technology law and policy news site LawMeme. He is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ernest Miller's blog postings can also be found @

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The Importance of...

August 02, 2004
The Presidential Election, Copyright, INDUCE Act (IICA) and Tech PolicyEmail This EntryPrint This Entry
Posted by Ernest Miller

Teleread has been relentlessly requesting information about copyright and tech policy from the Kerry/Edwards campaign for months now (back when it was just Kerry). See, for example, this post from the end of June: Still wanted: Copyright answers from John Kerry's policy people in photo below. Teleread's most recent post on the issue looks at the tiny tidbit of innovation policy in Kerry's acceptance speech (John Kerry's chip against high tech):

Think about the copyright-related implications that Kerry unwittingly raised in his speech:
A young generation of entrepreneurs asked, what if we could take all the information in a library and put it on a little chip the size of a fingernail? We did and that too changed the world forever.
Hmm. Dream on, John. The biggest obstacle isn't the tech; it's campaign contributors. How fascinating that you talked about a library on a chip -- the very stuff gives copyright holders nightmares! And yet your policy advisors blew me off when I tried to educate them about Bono and also interest them in innovative ways of paying content-providers. Of course, the real action isn't in libraries on a chip. It's in networked libraries. [emphasis, links in original]
C|Net News's Declan McCullagh now weighs in on Kerry's tech policy (John Kerry's real tech agenda). McCullagh does a good job summarizing Kerry's position's on tech from his Senate votes and statements. The record is definitely not positive when it comes to copyright:
A careful review of Kerry's history in the Senate shows that his record on technology is mixed. The Massachusetts Democrat frequently sought to levy intrusive new restrictions on technology businesses that could harm the U.S. economy. He was no friend of privacy and sided with Hollywood over Silicon Valley in the copyright wars.
I've blogged about Timothy Wu, professor of law at Univ. of Virginia's School of Law, before (It's All About the Distribution - Free Speech, Telecomm and Copyright). He is one of the most important new voices in information law, but more about that in another post. Anyway, he is guest blogging on Larry Lessig's blog and one of his first posts asks whether a Kerry administration would veto the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act (IICA, née INDUCE Act) (The Question). There is some good discussion and information in the comments.

My take on this? Well, you're reading aren't you?

First, this is a non-partisan question. We should be asking both the Bush and Kerry people what their position on INDUCE is, especially as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) wants to pass the bill during the current term. Who really cares whether Kerry would veto it if Bush signs it into law? Indeed, if Bush spoke out against it, I highly doubt it would pass anytime soon.

Second, unfortunately, I doubt we will get much of an answer from either camp. The copyfight movement is simply too small and there are other issues that are much more important. Leftist copyfighters are unlikely to switch votes because Bush promises to stick it to Hollywood, and conservative copyfighters are unlikely to switch if Kerry turns on his Hollywood money donation machine. In such a situation, why should a politician stake out a clear position? Kerry will likely talk about protecting and promoting innovation, while protecting the rights of copyright holders and creative artists.

These are important issues, of course, but that doesn't mean they will be treated as important. Certainly, the copyfight won't be treated as important this election cycle. But that doesn't mean we should stop talking about these issues and pressing the campaigns on them.

However, Dave Winer's idea is probably not the best way to go about it (What the bloggers should have done at the Democratic Convention). Winer proposes that bloggers at the conventions lobby on behalf of the copyfight. However, that mistakes the purpose of conventions. They aren't there for lobbying. Moreover, that would be the fastest way to get disinvited to the next convention. Why would either party invite self-described lobbyists and, if they did, who would choose which lobbyists they should invite?


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Notable + Quotable from Copyfight Rob Pegaro, in a Washington Post article indicating that the public is finally waking up and smelling the broadcast flag: "Left on its own, the market could give TiVo's system its appropriate reward. Except we don't have a free market... [Read More]

Tracked on August 2, 2004 10:30 PM





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