Monday, December 14, 2009

Weapons of Mass Distribution Redux? - The White House Summit

While the environment evaporates in Copenhagen and the rights of the blind are being blindsided in Geneva, rest assured that intellectual property enforcement activity is alive and well in Washington, DC. Variety reports that:
Vice President Joseph Biden is leading a roundtable on Tuesday with Hollywood CEOs, music industry execs and legal experts in what is being billed as a first-of-its-kind discussion on piracy.
Everybody who's anybody in the US entertainment business will be there.

Lots of top government officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, Homland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, FBI director Robert Mueller and Secret Service director Mark Sullivan.

Among the private sector, those present will include Sony's Michael Lynton, Warner Bros.' Barry Meyer, Viacom's Philippe Dauman, NBC Universal's Jeffrey Zucker, Warner Music Group's Edgar Bronfman, Harper Collins CEO Brian Murray, Universal Music Group's Zachary Horowitz, the MPAA's Dan Glickman, the RIAA's Mitch Bainwol, IATSE's international president Matthew Leob, AFTRA'S Kim Roberts Hedgepeth, DGA president Taylor Hackford, DGA exec director Jay Roth and SAG's David White.

Curiously, somehow, I dont' see anyone from EFF, Public Knowledge, or the Consumer Electronics Association on the White House list.

Would it be surprising if those present find "overwhelming' and "convincing" evidence - or words to that effect - of the existence of weapons of mass distribution in "rogue" nations such as Canada, or words to that effect?


PS - Dec. 15

here's Gigi Sohn's Statement on behalf of Public Knowledge:

For Immediate Release:
December 15, 2009

The following statement is attributed to Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:

“We were extremely disappointed to learn of the White House meeting to be held later today on the issue of intellectual property and ‘piracy.’ It is unclear why three cabinet officers, several subcabinet officers, the directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Secret Service are needed to tend to the worries of the big media companies, particularly the motion picture industry which is completing a year in which it will set box-office records.

“Although the meeting with Vice President Biden purports to bring together ‘all of the stakeholders to discuss ways to combat piracy in this rapidly changing technological age,’ some stakeholders are noticeably missing. Many representatives of media companies will be there. No consumer or public-interest groups, technology companies, technology associations or Internet Service Providers are on the guest list. No one who questions the need for Draconian governmental policies on behalf of the privileged special interest group for whom this meeting is being held is on the guest list.

“If Vice President Biden is truly interested in learning more about intellectual property, we hope he will continue his consultations with a group of people who share a wider range of views than those with whom he will meet today.

“We also question the propriety of having Attorney General Eric Holder attend a meeting with top officials of NBC when it is quite possible the Department of Justice will have to rule on NBC’s unprecedented merger with Comcast which would combine those two media giants.”

The White House announcement, with entire guest list, is here.


  1. What have EFF or Public Knowledge ever done to fight piracy? I can't see how they would help the situation at all.

  2. Anonymous,

    Public Knowledge and CEA has steered the industry away from harmful and ineffective anti-piracy measures, such as the industry's attempts to ban technologies. For example, after the industry failed in its attempts to ban the VCR, an entire new market around the rental and sale of videotapes erupted.

    Similarly today, pushback on the industry's foolish attempts to block Internet content has resulted in new markets where access to content is monetized by sales and advertising!

    Robb Topolski