Open Questions for the Piracy Czar

The US has created a position in our Department of Commerce called the Coordinator for International Intellectual
Property Enforcement
. In short, a Piracy Czar. From what I’ve read the person will be in charge of a war on piracy.

On The Long Tail blog, Wired editor Chris Anderson writes I was chatting with a former Microsoft manager the other day and he revealed that after much analysis Microsoft had realized that some piracy is not only inevitable, but could actually be economically optimal. Read the whole post for the explanation.

On the Piracy Czar’s press release this figure is touted: U.S. companies alone lose an estimated $250 billion per year [to copyright infringement], costing 750,000 American jobs. That’s a lot of money and jobs, but does that count the money the was made from copyright infringement by companies like Microsoft? Is anyone even keeping track of how much money companies earn from copyright infringement?

In the show On The Media host Brooke Gladstone discusses mixtapes with writer Oliver Wang. Oliver says

Most mixtapes are still technically illegal ones because they’re not using materials that have been cleared and have been paid for. But it’s an understanding between the label that if we give you this and you help promote our song, the labels are willing to look the other way.

The same recording industry that is at war with its customers is encouraging piracy as a promotional tool.

Will the Piracy Czar try to stop mixtapes, when the record labels that own the songs actually encourage their copying? How can the RIAA indicate which songs are OK to copy onto mixtapes and which songs are forbidden to copy? (hint)

The BBC is changing its business model after it received a ‘wake-up call’ about the demand for new technology in March when the first episode of the new Doctor Who was leaked on to the internet.

The constitutional purpose of copyright is to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts. Progress in the BBC’s delivery system is coming about because of copyright infringement, not in spite of it. When progress and copyright are in conflict, which side will the Piracy Czar be on?

The creation of a Piracy Czar post heralds a US “war on piracy.” Will it be an blind war against any copyright infringement, or will the harms and benefits to society be carefully weighed?