RIAA takes Over the DoJ under Obama: Bad News for Copyfighters

Snip from a post by Alan Wexelblat on the alarming number of copyright maximalist lawyers being appointed by the Obama administration to the Department of Justice. Bad news for people who believe in copyright reform, and greater freedom to share, remix, and reuse content online. Snip:
First off, there's the #3 man at Justice, Thomas Perrelli, accurately described by CNET as "beloved by the RIAA". Not only has this guy been on the wrong side in the courtroom, he's fingered as instrumental in convincing the Copyright Board to strangle Web radio in its crib by imposing impossible fee structures.

Then there's Neil MacBride, who used to be the Business Software Alliance's general counsel. The BSA, to its credit, hasn't been suing teenagers. Generally their name is associated with large-scale raids on companies that are mass-producing illegal copies of software. Still, it's an industry flak group.

Then there's the #2 man, currently slated to be David Ogden. If that name only rings a faint bell it's because you have to cast your mind back to Eldred v Ashcroft, the argument on whether retroactive copyright term extensions were legal. Sitting over there on Ashcroft's side? That's Mr. Odgen. For extra-bonus ick points, Ogden also was involved in defending the heinous COPA legislation, fortunately now dead and buried (but not forgotten).

The capper on this line-up of suspicious characters is Donald Verrilli, now up for Associate Deputy Attorney General. This specimen of legal acumen is front and center in the Cartel's jihad, having appeared for Viacom when it sued YouTube, for the RIAA against Jammie Thomas, single mother. And if we peer back a little farther, we find Verrilli's dirty fingerprints on MGM v Grokster.

RIAA Takes Over DoJ (Corante Copyfight)


  1. goddamit. Well, I guess this is why its copyfighters, and not copy-hope-for-the-best-but-sit-and-take-it-ers.

  2. hmmmm. the ARE lawyers, whores to be bought and sold,(no disrespect to sex-trade workers), mayhap they can be turned to the the side of light – if enough money is waved at them. A tool is a tool.

  3. remember, for every song track you download for free a little angel has to attend an Al Gore meeting.

  4. I was a deeply afraid of this. Everyone has to remember how deeply attached the Democratic Party and the entertainment industry are.

    I’m an old line progressive Democrat, and I fully supported Obama, but I think this is the price we have to pay.

    Sorry for all you young folks who have been fighting these bastards. All I can say is: Keep up the fight. The entertainment industry is one of the most conservative, if not reactionary, in this country (technologically speaking). They have cried wolf at every new technology. But, eventually they lost every single war.

    At 64, I can say this too will pass.

    Nil nisi carborundum est.
    (Don’t let the bastards wear you down)

    Rick York

  5. @ #3:

    because public humiliation requires broad public interest in the humiliating issue. paying taxes is something everyone relates to: we all hate paying taxes, so having someone who failed to pay their share in the upper echelons of government rubs everyone the wrong way.

    however, not everyone has any interest or personal investment in copyright issues. even the section of the general public that’s aware of the debate isn’t very well informed of the issues behind it. the common response, based on a limited understanding of what the debate actually is, goes something like this: copyright violations are the same as theft, and therefore copyright holders are legally (and morally) justified in prosecuting offenders. even people who might hear about RIAA prosecutions of teenagers and single mothers might sympathize with both the defendants (“wow, that sucks for them”) as well as the prosecutors (“they’re justified in seeking compensation for the use/consumption of their work”).

    there isn’t going to be a mass public outcry against the travesty of having people in the justice department who have a restrictive, corporation-oriented stance on copyright. only artists and people who consume art in a modern way (ie, not just through buying a cd or dvd at walmart or seeing physical media at an art gallery once every three years) feel a sense of investment in this issue.

  6. “the alarming number of lawyers being appointed by the Obama administration to the Department of Justice”

    Lawyers working for the Department of Justice? Oh the Horror!

  7. If we give them enough rope…


    This blog post is free to only those that do not support the RIAA, all others will have to pay a substantial fee for reading this post, if you have already ready this post and are an RIAA supporter please forward the fee posted below to the owners of this blog. Also if you are reading this on a Tuesday in February you must double the fee posted below along with a Two Fer Tuesday penalty.

    Fee: 3 Million Euros

  8. “the alarming number of lawyers being appointed by the Obama administration to the Department of Justice.”

    I think you mean “the alarming number of shittaskic lawyers”

    — MrJM

  9. A point that people often miss – lawyers are paid to represent a viewpoint in court, to the best of their abilities, as long as they are paid to do so. Quite often, the viewpoint they are paid to present is not in fact one they personally hold – I’ve seen more than enough quotes along the lines of “I know my client is a dirty scum who is guilty as hell, and my client knows they’re a dirty scum who’s guilty as hell, but I’m ethically bound to do the best I can to defend him, because he’s my client”.

    Remember guys – it’s usually *not* the lawyer’s fault, their ethical system *demands* they pull the stunts they do. The problem is the people who are paying the lawyers to pull these stunts…

    Do we have *any* reason to believe that these lawyers will continue mouthing the official RIAA line, if/when they’re being paid by the DoJ to follow a different party line?

  10. LOL


    Do we have *any* reason to believe that these lawyers will continue mouthing the official RIAA line, if/when they’re being paid by the DoJ to follow a different party line?

    Because Government jobs always pay better than Industry, and appointees like this never pedal influence?

    The only way they’ll get a better price than the RIAA is for all the file traders to bribe them with their savings from all the free media.

    As the hype about Obama & change fades, reality sets in.

    Welcome to the Chicago Political Machine.

  11. “You were the chosen one! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them! You were to bring balance to the force, not leave it in darkness!”

    -O. W. Kenobi

  12. #15: Isn’t that only for defense attorneys? Most of the appointees were former prosecutors, for whom “You’re scum, find another lawyer to do your dirty work” should be perfectly acceptable and often the more ethical answer.

    #22: Off-topic nitpick – Anakin was supposed to bring balance to the Force. Balance… during a period so dominated by good Jedi that the bad Jedi were stuff of memory. What the hell did they think balance meant?

  13. Well, I understand how superficially this is a bad thing, but hasn’t the general trend in RIAA/MPAA dealings leaned towards shedding DRM as a way of controlling distribution?

    The MPAA seems stuck in stone, but it seems to me like the RIAA is growing and evolving.

  14. I’m blaming Biden for the DoJ choices.
    Remember, he was at the MAFIAA DMCA ball. This is the kind of person that parties with Jack “VCR = bankrupt Hollywood” Valenti.
    Enough said.

  15. He has a law background. He hired lawyers. If I graduated from Harvard Law School, I’d probably know which lawyers to pick to best facilitate what I think is best for The People. He’s also on YouTube every week. He’s young. He probably uses an iPod. I think the man is at least moderately in touch with the issues.

    Innocent until proven guilty is our code of law, not the other way around. I will continue to feel confident about my vote until proven wrong. The guy’s doing a shockingly great job already.

  16. Kind of the point Valdis@15 was making: does the US have the ‘cab rank rule’ that we operate under at the English Bar?

    From the Bar Standards Board Code of Conduct:

    601. A barrister who supplies advocacy services must not withhold those services:
    (a) on the ground that the nature of the case is objectionable to him or to any section of the public;
    (b) on the ground that the conduct opinions or beliefs of the prospective client are unacceptable to him or to any section of the public;

    602. A self-employed barrister must comply with the ‘Cab-rank rule’ and accordingly except only as otherwise provided in paragraphs 603 604 605 and 606 he must in any field in which he professes to practise in relation to work appropriate to his experience and seniority and irrespective of whether his client is paying privately or is publicly funded:
    (a) accept any brief to appear before a Court in which he professes to practise;
    (b) accept any instructions;
    (c) act for any person on whose behalf he is instructed;
    and do so irrespective of (i) the party on whose behalf he is instructed (ii) the nature of the case and (iii) any belief or opinion which he may have formed as to the character reputation cause conduct guilt or innocence of that person.

    (The name for this comes from the rule that a London licensed taxi cab must take the next person waiting for it, no matter who they are or where, within reason, they want to go.)

  17. Disappointing that he would (or his campaign) be that far out of touch with those of us on the Internet who truly would be “his base.”

    Shame on him for deciding to appoint people whose actions in the DoJ have not been proven yet and who have been appointed less than a month after he took office.

    Never criticize a half-baked cake. It all looks like good anyway.

  19. Bm hd slz wrttn ll vr hm wth dcds ld pg d, nd y lbrl trst fnd kds vtd fr hm n drvs, s nw h s gvng yr rghts wy t th hghst bddrs. njy mrns…

  20. I don’t wanna say I told you so, well no, I do. Obama is Clinton redux, his backers are in Hollywood and New York, its entertainment and trial lawyers – you going to see increasing strength of the RIAA under Obama (Like the DMCA under Clinton), you’ll also see increasing malpractice litigation (one of the few things Bush wisely trimmed back).

    Still given the choice you had of McCain / Obama, I think Obama was the right pick. But I’m surprised that people are surprised by this, in my experience its more important to note who a politicians financial backers are then to listen to what he says.

  21. The men at the factory are old and cunning
    You don’t owe nothing, so kid get running

    This is what some seek to outlaw (well not if you ask permission and pay $$ first, eh?):

    yeah it is dangerous, this “violation” of “copy-don’t”…

  22. Julian Sanchez writes: “We know, for instance, that when test subjects are asked to guess the opinion of an essay’s author, they will assume that the author agrees with his essay even if they are told the author was instructed to defend that position. Perhaps these appointees took the cases they did because of a deep commitment to an expansive view of copyright. But isn’t it more parsimonious to observe that the RIAA pays well?”

  23. Ron Paul wouldn’t have appointed these clowns.

    Exactly. He would’ve appointed somebody internet savvy, like one of his stormfront.org supporters.

  24. I do adore that a strongly anti-surveillance, vehemently pro-human rights blog is up in arms because several of Obama’s DoJ picks previously represented COPYRIGHT litigants. Way to have your priorities in the right places, folks.

    And, as others have already noted, lawyers are ethically obligated to zealously represent their clients, irrespective of their own personal ideology or opinions on the matter. The ethical standards apply to *all* lawyers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, trial lawyers, whatever. I personally have a pretty hard time reading all that much into the new DoJ picks based purely on their lists of previous clients.

    Especially given the other priorities I certainly hope are at work in the selection process for the DoJ regarding issues like torture, illegal surveillance of American citizens, and indefinite detention without a legal determination of guilt.

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