Critiquing The “Free Culture” Book Report or “The Copyright Education of Mr. Khanna”

Forbes Magazine commentator Scott Cleland has an interesting blog post regarding the Republican Study Committee’s withdrawn book report on Free Culture…sorry, “policy paper” on copyright reform written by a committee staffer and boosted almost immediately by a number of Google Shill Listers.  In fact, Mr. Khanna’s LinkedIn bio–one does wonder where they find these guys–reveals the comforting assertion that Mr. Khanna advises (or advised) the Secretary of Defense on the important issue of cyber security.  (Did the Secretary know?)

Cyber-Security Policy Adviser

DoD Defense Science Board on Cyber-Security

March 2012– Present (9 months) Washington, DC

The Defense Science Board for the Secretary of Defense includes leading academics, scholars, visionaries (including Vint Cerf) and field experts in the scientific field to provide expertise to the Department of Defense.

I advise and present recommendations to the Secretary of Defense relevant to cyber-security.

A very serious person–unless you ask his section mates at Georgetown who may have a different view.

But I can’t help noticing the reference to Vint Cerf.  Who might he be, you may ask?

MTP readers will no doubt remember the torrid correspondence between Mr. Cerf and one Andrew McLaughlin, the former worldwide head of lobbying for Google who became the (unconfirmed) White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer for a brief time (Andrew, we hardly knew ye):

 or this one:

Violate the Presidential Records Act much?  MTP readers will remember that Mr. McLaughlin was shown the White House door over email correspondence with Googlers like Mr. Cerf.  A word to the wise for social climbing young Capitol Hill staffers.

McLaughlin drew heat earlier this year when it was discovered that he used his personal Gmail account to consult with former colleagues at Google — a breach of the ethics pledge initiated by President Barack Obama that prohibits White House employees from directly engaging their former employers and clients for at least two years.

McLaughlin was reprimanded for the incident, but the White House has maintained that the limited number of e-mails had no influence on any federal policy decisions.

Ah, right, because if Mr. Cerf did “influence federal policy decisions,” that would be a whatchamacallit…a crime.  McLaughlin left, nothing happened to Mr. Cerf.

Now…would it be meanspirited to think it was an issue that Mr. Cerf might have had communications with Mr. Khanna about his paper outside of official channels?  Only if Mr. Khanna was a “covered legislative branch official”.  You know, like someone who works for the Congressional leadership and is so important that he advises the Secretary of Defense.  But would Mr. Cerf be a mere “lobbyist”?

Yes, Vint Cerf is the Chief Internet Evangelist for Google.  (An new way to describe lobbying?)  Shocking, yes, I know, but Mr. Khanna seems to have been brought under the wing of Google.  You don’t think that there’s a connection between Mr. Cerf and the Google Shill Listers picking up on Mr. Khanna’s “policy paper” so quickly?  Nah….they all monitor the RSC’s website 24/7 dude.

Now who else’s thoughts echo through the “policy paper”?  Someone else whose pet projects got millions from Google?  Professor Free Ride himself?

For 14 years, a copyright owner would need to do nothing to receive the full protection of copyright law. But after 14 years, to receive full protection, the owner would have to take the minimal step of registering the work with an approved, privately managed and competitive registry, and of paying the copyright office $1.

This rule would not apply to foreign works, because it is unfair and illegal to burden foreign rights-holders with these formalities. It would not apply, immediately at least, to work created between 1978 and today. And it would apply to photographs or other difficult-to-register works only when the technology exists to develop reliable and simple registration databases that would make searching for the copyright owners of visual works an easy task.

I see.  Mr. Khanna evidently only wishes to punish American works of authorship and leave the other folks alone.  Yes, Mr. Khanna seems to want to disarm American intellectual property unilaterally–because I find it very hard to believe that any other countries that are signatories to the Berne Convention will agree to this proposal.  They’re not idiots.  Lessig’s plan was to change the US law then try to impose the radically shorter 14 year terms on the rest of the world.  You know who would be a good person to ask about this?  Chairman James Sensenbrenner.  I’m sure he could enlighten Mr. Khanna in a jiff.

Oh, that will go over so well. 

Here’s what I would like to know–I’d like to know the names of all the Republicans who intend to sign up to this “plan” of penalizing just the Americans.  Oh yes please–step right forward ladies and gents.  Raise your hand and take the pledge.

But while you’re waiting for that line to form, give a read of Mr. Cleland’s The Copyright Education of Mr. Khanna.  Unfortunately, this one doesn’t have a nice picture of Mr. Khanna to accompany it.

Something about copyright I think.