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January 27, 2005
It's clear that the Progress & Freedom Foundation (PFF) dearly hoped to make more of an impact on the debate over the Induce Act. VP Patrick Ross is showing some awfully bitter grapes in this embarrassingly personal article that's supposed to be about policy differences but instead reads as a poorly veiled attempt to smear Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn. For example, Ross faults Gigi for claiming to speak for the consumer in copyright policy negotiations because he can't remember the last time he "voted for a 'consumer representative.'" Presumably, we're meant to understand that it's a ridiculous concept for the consumer to have a voice in such matters. That wacky Gigi.
For background on PFF's policy views, check out Larry Lessig's post from back in September, responding to the organization's push to replace the Betamax doctrine with a six-factor test:
I can well understand New Dealers racing to craft multifactored tests to regulate innovation. But I thought the whole point of the conservative (economic) movement was to teach us how harmful such regulation was to innovation and growth. Any test that cannot be applied on summary judgment guarantees that federal judges will be forced into a complex balancing to decide which innovation should be allowed. And thus, any industry threatened with competition can then use the courts to extort from these new competitors payment before they are permitted to compete.
This is a group that claims to represent the middle ground?
Update: Siva weighs in: "In a better world, our elected representatives would speak for consumers. But they don't, even though we elect them. They are bought and sold, unlike Gigi. That's why we need Gigi and other consumer advocates. They sacrifice their time and go underpaid for their entire lives so they can sleep soundly at night, knowing they made the world a little bit better. What does Ross think is going on here?
Ross says Gigi does not speak for consumers who want to pay for online content. She most certainly does. I am one of those consumers. I am proud to have Gigi and Public Knowledge speak for me. And I have had no problem paying for content. Has anyone? Is this a frequent complaint? Nobody wants our money?"
Update #2: Joe Gratz: "Ross seems upset that Sohn calls herself a 'consumer advocate' while failing to represent the views of consumers who enjoy paying monopoly rents.
'Wait!,' Ross seems to be saying, 'I'm a consumer, and I think the big content companies who pay my salary should have complete control over the media they release and the technologies used to enjoy those media. She's not representing my view, ergo she is a sham consumer advocate.'"
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