The Copyright Principles Project: Selflessness, Valley Style Amongst A Dedicated Group of Likeminded People

We heard a new twist on the Copyright Principles Project–because the participants are academics, they are not “self interested” the way that creators are.  Ah, disinterested elites on a quest for truth that only the anointed can divine.

Although this point of view is common to academics (who frequently seem to think that their views are superior to everyone else’s–as any law student can attest), allow this non acolyte to diverge from the path to an “A” (or other form of approval, such as a nice fresh fish so appreciated by trained seals) and express a contrary view at the risk of getting an “F”.

First off, the Copyright Principles Project is not entirely made up of people who don’t know each other and is also not entirely made up of academics.  Some corporate types are represented–just not one soul from the photography business, playwrights, visual artists, or anyone from music (serious or pop).   So why were these people selected?

Here is a slightly annotated list reflecting those with ties to Google-funded organizations (generally advisory board types) and to organizations funded by Professor Samuelson and her husband, the well-known Silicon Valley tycoon Doctor Glushko.

“The following persons are members of the Copyright Principles Project:
Pamela Samuelson, Berkeley Law School (convenor)
Jon A. Baumgarten, Proskauer Rose LLP
Michael W. Carroll, American University, Washington College of Law (Creative Commons [millions funded by Google]/AU is Home of Samuelson/Glushko Center)
Julie E. Cohen, Georgetown University Law Center (Public Knowledge [Funded by Google per Google Shill List])
Troy Dow, The Walt Disney Co.
Brian Fitzgerald, Queensland University of Technology (Creative Commons [millions funded by Google])
Laura Gasaway, University of North Carolina School of Law
Daniel Gervais, Vanderbilt Law School (Former University of Ottawa/Samuelson Glushko CIPPIC during his tenure as dean)
Terry Ilardi, IBM Corp.
Jessica Litman, University of Michigan School of Law (Public Knowledge [Funded by Google per Google Shill List])
Lydia Pallas Loren, Lewis & Clark Law School
Glynn Lunney, Tulane University School of Law
Tyler Ochoa, Santa Clara University School of Law
R. Anthony Reese, University of California, Irvine, School of Law
Kate Spelman, Cobalt LLC
Christopher Sprigman, University of Virginia School of Law (Associate at Stanford CIS, millions funded by Google)
Jule Sigall, Microsoft Corp.
Michael Traynor, President Emeritus, American Law Institute
Tara Wheatland, Berkeley Law School
Jeremy Williams, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Why are these affiliations important?  First, there are a bunch of corporations flat out represented on The Project.  So if you’re going to let them in, why only them?

But what is more difficult to explain is why The Project pitched Creative Commons as a commercial solution to certain “reforms” (solutions in search of a problem if you ask” me) without disclosing the long time affiliations with Creative Commons of the participants (or, to be consistent, I guess you’d have to call them the “convened” if Professor Samuelson is the “convener”).

For example, The Project’s white paper states (at p. 24 for those who are reading along):

[W]e envision a series of registries that would meet the needs of particular authorial communities and industry participants and that could compete for business from copyright owners, as has occurred with the domain name registration system. Creative Commons, for instance, could become a registry for authors of works who prefer to allow wider uses of their works, but want control over commercial distributions of them.

How would that have read if you substituted one of the corporations participating for “Creative Commons”?  Or perhaps “Google” for Creative Commons since you are talking about data manipulation, Creative Commons gets a huge contribution from Google and the mother in law of one of the Google founders is the head of the organization.

Can we agree that the “convener” and the “convened” should disclose all of their affiliations before they testify to the American people?  If they are going to pass themselves off as selfless oracles from Silicon Valley (physically or metaphorically since they all teach “high tech law” of once species or another), shouldn’t they demonstrate that it’s not business as usual, Valley style?  Or that it is?

I acknowledge that they are not term sheet popping daddies having breakfast at Buck’s, but still–it kind of smells of the kind of shilling that caused the Google Shill List to seem necessary.  And I might actually prefer the breakfast at Buck’s types on a certain level.  At least you’d know where they stand.

For the convener and the convened not to submit their conflict of interest is just a little too convenient.

3 thoughts on “The Copyright Principles Project: Selflessness, Valley Style Amongst A Dedicated Group of Likeminded People

  1. We forget that as hard as we try there are no “unbiased” people or views. The best we can hope for is to know what the bias is of any author, speaker or teacher.


  2. I’m wondering why these folks are even given so much “importance” as to overshadow our own efforts. Is there a competing summit of folks from amongst us creator-types that are also meeting to address the same issues? Is this meant to guide policy-making for politicians? Is this something WE need to counter? If so, who would we select? Yeah, I have questions. But the main one is the first one.


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