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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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March 23, 2004

What Would You Say to the Copyright Office?

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Prof. Susan Crawford will be giving a lunchtime talk to the Copyright Office next Thursday (part of a program called The Copyright Office Comes To New York [PDF]) (What Would You Say to the Copyright Office?). Although she has a few issues she is planning to bring up, she wants your suggestions on additional things to let the Copyright Office hear about. As she notes, "This is my chance to say something sensible." Of course, "sensible" and "Copyright Office" don't usually go well together. Still, this is an opportunity not to be missed. So, give her your suggestions: Post a Comment: What Would You Say to the Copyright Office?.

Comments (5) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Announcements


1. Cypherpunk on March 23, 2004 12:45 PM writes...

Well, contrary to her intentions, I would not talk about sodomy or gay marriage. Those may show off her liberal credentials nicely, but this is after all the copyright office, and these issues are no more relevant to that body than farm policy or Iraqi oil contracts.

In fact, if all she's going to do is to run through the litany of liberal causes, she might as well save her breath. Her speech will be so predictable that the listeners could write it themselves. They can have little printouts with the standard list of topics, and mark them off as she covers them. Broadcast flag, check. Analog hole, check. DMCA, check. And so on. Another wasted and predictable meeting.

My advice to her would be to try to find some topic, anything, where she has something surprising to say, some difference from the conventional wisdom, and to talk about that. Leave her audience saying, wow, that's not what I expected to hear. That's the only way she's going to make an impression.

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2. Ernest Miller on March 23, 2004 12:55 PM writes...

Do you have some examples?

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3. Cypherpunk on March 23, 2004 1:09 PM writes...

Well, it really depends on what is in her mind, which I can't know.

Among the list of topics at the end, there were some seeming contradictions, which is always a good sign. (Contradictions provide the potential for creative thinking.) She says "don't press for more laws", then in the next breath, "let Congress decide", then in the very next breath she complains, "Congress has not been technologically neutral". Somewhere in that simmering mixture of ideas she ought to be able to cook up an interesting perspective.

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4. Susan Crawford on March 23, 2004 8:02 PM writes...

Thanks for the thoughts -- you're probably right that saying something predictable dooms whatever remarks I might make. So I'll find something contradictory and surprising to say. I was hoping that the Lawrence v. Texas story would at least make them feel uncomfortable, because many copyright office mavens are good liberals. But I certainly hear your concerns about that.

One of the 9th circuit judges hearing the Grokster argument asked a question that sounded to me like "do you really think there's a role for courts here" -- and I think that's a large question. Institutionally, neither the courts nor the agencies seem suited to making copyright rulings for the online world. My bet is that Congress will refrain from doing so, so I'd rather place secondary liability and tech mandates in front of them and hope for the best.

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5. Ernest Miller on March 23, 2004 8:25 PM writes...

Are you really sure how liberal the copyright office mavens are? I've found many liberals who support Lawrence but are suddenly ill-at-ease when it comes to gay marriage, especially when courts impose it. Might be a topic to shy from about now.

I'll be thinking about this over the next week, but one of the things I would definitely bring up with them is videogames. Show them some machinima (Red vs. Blue), show them some mods, introduce them to this new videogame copyright world where players are participants in creation.

Talk to them about BitTorrent and RSS and the new distribution system I call "broadcatching."

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