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Interviews: Ask Derek Khanna About Government Regulations and Technology

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the freedom-from-freedom dept.

Government 72

Republican staffer Derek Khanna was thrust into the spotlight in December for being fired after submitting a controversial brief titled: Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix it. In the brief Khanna said: "Current copyright law does not merely distort some markets – rather it destroys entire markets," a view not very popular with Republicans in the House of Representatives. Since the firing, Khanna has continued to speak out on the need for copyright reform and most recently on the law against unlocking cellphones. Derek has graciously agreed to take some time to answer your questions about copyright reform and IP law. As usual, ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

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72 comments

Do You Still Identify Yourself as Republican? (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#42896603)

I believe your paper would have been unpopular on both sides of the isle but did the Republican knee jerk reaction to it negatively affect your affinity with the Republican party and your efforts to further their cause? Setting aside your differences on Copyright Law with that party, are you still Republican?

Re:Do You Still Identify Yourself as Republican? (2)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#42896839)

Follow up question: If you had been a Democratic staffer, do you think you would have been fired or would have been treated differently?

That is, what is the interaction between the Republican party verses the general entrenched interests that influences both parties. I have seen many Democrats also advocate for strict IP laws.

Re:Do You Still Identify Yourself as Republican? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42897117)

What I find funny about copyright and patent issues is that people want to think their preferred party is less awful on the subject. It's a pretty sad state of affairs, really.

Check out his answer on this, from the last time he answered these:
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130107/02583521591/techdirt-interview-with-derek-khanna-author-rsc-fix-copyright-policy-briefing.shtml [techdirt.com]

He seems to think that the right is in a better ideological position to tackle copyright and patent reform. For my part, I'd bet my bottom dollar we won't see meaningful reform on any of this stuff, anytime soon.

Re:Do You Still Identify Yourself as Republican? (1)

curunir (98273) | about a year ago | (#42897301)

Given that the only candidate who would have addressed it in any capacity (Ron Paul) ran for his party's nomination, it's hard to argue with that. Also, before it was co-opted, the tea party identified as Republican while espousing Libertarian beliefs, so there's a reasonably large portion of the base that might also be amenable to addressing the issue.

Democrats like to think of themselves as more progressive, and, for the most part, I think they're correct, but on copyright issues, the Democrats have always been Hollywood's lackeys. Speaking as someone who votes Democrat most of the time, I'd have more hope of Republicans coming around on this issue than Democrats, if for no other reason than the last election proved that they were significantly out-of-touch with voters and it's pretty clear that copyright law is out-of-touch with reality given how many people download/share illegally (when millions of people break the law, it's usually the law that's broken, not the behavior.)

Which "isle"? Manhattan? (0)

billstewart (78916) | about a year ago | (#42896959)

Sorry, but the recent Corporate Real Estate diagrams for my department's new data center had areas labeled "hot isle" and "cold isle", and somebody ought to get flamed for it.

Re:Which "isle"? Manhattan? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42897089)

Makes perfect sense -- the round-ish hotspot in the room where the servers all sit is the hot isle, and the space surrounding the AC vents on the ceiling is the cold isle.

Re:Which "isle"? Manhattan? (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#42897153)

Makes perfect sense -- the round-ish hotspot in the room where the servers all sit is the hot isle, and the space surrounding the AC vents on the ceiling is the cold isle.

Oh.

My.

Lord.

You are [google.com] an idiot. [google.com]

Re:Which "isle"? Manhattan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42897359)

whoooooosh!

(A well-designed server room has "aisles", a repurposed closet with a few racks in one spot and an air conditioner in another, with no circulation, has "isles"; thanks for killing the joke)

Re:Which "isle"? Manhattan? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#42898027)

Maybe it was covered in asphalt. You know, a heat island.

Re:Which "isle"? Manhattan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42906625)

Maybe it was covered in asphalt. You know, a heat island.

yes, but whose dumb asphalt was it?

Re:Do You Still Identify Yourself as Republican? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42897225)

There actually are more than two sides, you know. And the *ONLY* reason that there are actually even effectively only two sides is because of a self-perpetuating cycle that most people will only acknowledge two sides.

Re:Do You Still Identify Yourself as Republican? (2)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42897281)

There's only one side that actually matters. Monied interests. Democrats and Republicans are both just wings of the Profit Party.

Re:Do You Still Identify Yourself as Republican? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42898607)

No, it's just basic game theory and the mathematics of simple majority voting. If you have two, approximately even, front-running candidates, and you dislike both of them but dislike one more than the other, and you have one no-hoper candidate that you like, voting for the no-hoper will increase the chances that you get the mainstream candidate that you dislike more.

Re:Do You Still Identify Yourself as Republican? (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#42902509)

It's also basic game theory that a voting bloc that has enough power to throw an election and actually does on occasion, gets more attention than one which votes consistently for the lesser evil.

Valuing Companies Over Constituents (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#42896623)

Something that's always puzzled me is that the Republican party (more so than the Democrats) appears to value a corporation's rights over the rights of one of their very own constituents. With something like copyright law, it has long been clear that there is a lot of money in lobbying for the corporations and crickets chirping when it comes to defending things like fair use and public domain. In this particular arena, why don't votes outweigh campaign donations? Why hasn't a Republican (or Democrat even) built a platform on these things that benefit society as a whole in order to gain more votes? Is the money that good? Are the effects too concealed?

Re:Valuing Companies Over Constituents (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#42896931)

I can answer that one: Copyright is a niche issue. The vast majority just don't care. In the public agenda, it's right at the bottom. The number of votes which might be won by taking a stace for less restrictive copyrights is just outweighed by the number of votes that might be gained from improved advertising and campaigning funded by donations from copyright industry representatives.

Re:Valuing Companies Over Constituents (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#42898945)

+1 for this, IP issues are completely off the radar for most people. Copyright, patents, DRM, all probably less important than how carefully a candidate put his tie on in the grand scheme of an election.

Re:Valuing Companies Over Constituents (2)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#42897069)

I think I can point to as many – if not more - Democrats who support strict IP laws.

As for the Republicans specifically, read up on the tragedy of the common’s and Milton Friedman ‘s work on property rights and freedom. They (and I) believe that strong property rights encourage economic advancement and personal freedom.

As a side note, this is something that I struggle with. I want to see movies like the Hobbit, which only make economic sense if you factor in the DVD sales, licenses products, etc. On the other hand, I saw a wonderful stage production – fringe festival, 3 people (w/ puppets), 60 minutes. I want a world with both.

By the way, can anybody point me to the original memo? It’s not in the summary.

Re:Valuing Companies Over Constituents (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42897299)

I enjoyed seeing the Hobbit, but I'm quite sure I would gain more than I would lose if copyright were abolished. The massive influx of entertainment and educational materials into the public domain would more than offset any loss of blockbuster movies or other unsustainable business models.

Re:Valuing Companies Over Constituents (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#42900849)

I enjoyed seeing the Hobbit, but I'm quite sure I would gain more than I would lose if copyright were abolished. The massive influx of entertainment and educational materials into the public domain would more than offset any loss of blockbuster movies or other unsustainable business models.

And the loss of every open-source software project in the world, as well, because copyright oddly protects them as well.

Without copyright, anyone can take Linux, ignore the GPL (the GPL grants rights you don't have with "all rights reserved" - so you can choose "all rights reserved" or the GPL), and then release a product on it. They're not bound to the GPL if they with to follow copyright's restrictions (without copyright, there are no restrictions).

It's why people like RMS tend to take a more nuanced view - yes copyright, but no to the crazy terms - back to 14 year max terms. Even Linux of 14 years ago should go into public domain, but it's not terribly interesting because many modern conveniences are missing (USB and SATA, for example).

So yes, there will be a huge influx of new materials into the public domain, including open-source software. Even Creative Commons stuff as well.

Re:Valuing Companies Over Constituents (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42901103)

And the loss of every open-source software project in the world, as well, because copyright oddly protects them as well.

Copyright only protects open source because our software freedoms aren't enshrined in law as they should be. Make the four software freedoms the law of the land and copyright will be completely useless.

Re:Valuing Companies Over Constituents (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about a year ago | (#42901565)

Except that the GPL doesn't cover all Open Source or Free software. Without copyright, we don't have Stallman's copyleft. There's a whole lot of software out there with BSD-type licenses, and the only copyright-related restriction on those is attribution. This is still important, since it's useful to know if this is J. Random Hacker's version of FooWrite or something somebody else hacked on, but that can be covered with trademarks.

Re:Valuing Companies Over Constituents (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about a year ago | (#42897193)

The votes are likely just not there in quantities great enough to matter.

If you had $100 to spend on an issue, and $100 spent on issue A would net you 50 votes, while $100 spent on issue B would net you 150 votes, until diminishing returns on investment bring dollars invested in Issue B to Issue A rates of return, why would you ever spend money on Issue A if your needs were being satisfied?

Copyright is a complex topic, it doesn't lend itself to polarizing positions (nor should it, if we are to actually get a working system), so constructing a profitable(votewise) strategy around this topic is very hard, if not impractical given the situation.

Re:Valuing Companies Over Constituents (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42897383)

Copyright is a complex topic, it doesn't lend itself to polarizing positions

Copyright is a very simple topic. Any first semester economics student should be able to figure it out. Price is set by the intersection of supply and demand curves. Decreasing marginal costs increases supply which lowers price. When marginal cost is zero, price is zero. Attempting to subvert basic economic principles with brute force is unproductive. The only sensible policy in the digital age is copyright abolition. Observing that this would hurt the entertainment industry does not change the fundamental facts. This is what progress looks like.

What complexities have I missed?

Re:Valuing Companies Over Constituents (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#42898859)

It’s not “When marginal cost is zero, price is zero” – you have to factor in fixed costs. And when you say the price of something is nothing, you are saying it has no value. Then take a look at the supply curve - when price is zero supply is zero.

I think a lot of stuff out there has value. Am I 100% happy with current laws? No – I think they are too strict. Have I seen a better proposal then the current general construct of IP laws? Not really. (I have to give credit to KickStarter as the new form of patronage – but I think it only solves a limited number of issues.)

Re:Valuing Companies Over Constituents (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42899399)

Itâ(TM)s not âoeWhen marginal cost is zero, price is zeroâ â" you have to factor in fixed costs

Fixed costs only matter for that first copy. Charge enough for that first copy to meet your fixed costs.

And when you say the price of something is nothing, you are saying it has no value.

Air is free, and yet it has value. Price is not value. Getting something valueable for free is a good deal.

Then take a look at the supply curve - when price is zero supply is zero.

That's OK. If supply of copies ever dries up, we can choose to pay for a copy. If people want it, they will pay for it. If they don't, then nothing of value was lost.

Re:Valuing Companies Over Constituents (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#42902383)

Fixed costs only matter for that first copy. Charge enough for that first copy to meet your fixed costs.

Well, technically, marginal costs are based on total costs which included fixed costs. Even assuming you could find somebody to pay the upfront costs (which is a very generous assumption) you would have to deal with the free rider problem. So, as a whole society would undervalue these types of projects and thus underfund. (See below)

Air is free, and yet it has value. Price is not value. Getting something valueable for free is a good deal.

You are right that there is a difference between price and value. But by saying it should have a price for zero you are EXPLICATING stating it is worthless. In your example, when air was valued at nothing we had massive air pollution. Only by saying that air had value did we move forward to clean up the air. In this case 1 person bus the good but everybody else gets it for free – massive positive externalities. Items with negative externalities (like air pollution) tends to be overproduced. Positive ones tend to be underproduced. See also the tragedy of the commons.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality [wikipedia.org]

That's OK. If supply of copies ever dries up, we can choose to pay for a copy. If people want it, they will pay for it. If they don't, then nothing of value was lost.

So we will have unlimited old stuff – but you would have killed the golden goose – production would be cut to a trickle.

Re:Valuing Companies Over Constituents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42899569)

In this particular arena, why don't votes outweigh campaign donations?

Because with one you can purchase the other, but not vice versa.

Re:Valuing Companies Over Constituents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42904485)

It's called empirical evidence. When we start to see people voting based on their interests and beliefs instead of being manipulated by things that cost money (commercials and such), you'll see politicians change their tune. But so long as the proven formula of out-fundraise, out-spend and don't put your foot in your mouth continues to work, politicians will continue to use it.

You Were Surprised? Really? (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#42896653)

From your interview with Tim Lee:

But the "level of backlash it received from the content industry" took him by surprise.

Really? This took you by surprise? If not exactly what occurred, what exactly did you expect to happen? The content industry was just supposed to take it in stride and think that maybe copyright law has moved too far in their favor? I'm not in politics (thank god) and I'm not in the copyright business (praise xenu) but it was as lucid to me as an unmuddied pond that your job was forfeit upon publishing this. I mean, what exactly do you think Hollywood and the RIAA are paying you for if not to keep these kinds of discussions off the table and pass some Mickey Mouse Act 2.0 through the next Sonny Bono puppet?

Re:You Were Surprised? Really? (0)

Jiro (131519) | about a year ago | (#42897079)

I'm not him, but Hollywood is notoriously left-wing and on the side of the Democrats, so maybe he assumed that Republicans wouldn't be on Hollywood's side as much.

Re:You Were Surprised? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42898063)

Excuse me sire, did you just imply that the Democratic party is left-wing, or that left-wing people support the Democratic party, or that Hollywood dickheads are actually left-wing?

He had a legitimate reason to be surprised (2)

MikeRT (947531) | about a year ago | (#42899009)

The Republican base is notoriously hostile to the groups represented by the **AA. Most Republicans come from districts where Hollywood and co mean jack to them in terms of jobs and may even be an impediment. They're more likely to hear "what are you doing to rein in the filth from Hollywood" than a MPAA or RIAA-friendly comment from their base.

So really, for someone who was a bit naive it would be a no-brainer to think that a policy proposal along these lines aimed at galvanizing anti-big content voters and tech industry money would be a huge hit with the everyday Republican congresscritter. What he didn't count on was the piece of work from Nashville getting her panties in a knot and the Republican leadership being sufficiently spineless to give her what she wanted instead of telling Nashville to go fuck itself because "this is how we win Silicon Valley, mmmkay?"

Re:You Were Surprised? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42901667)

Would having the answer to this question really enlighten or benefit us in any way?

Now What? (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year ago | (#42896689)

You told other staffers when you left:

Don't be discouraged by the potential consequences. You work for the American people. It's your job, your obligation to be challenging existing paradigms and put forward novel solutions to existing problems.

So now what? What's your plan? I mean, you can tell them not to be discouraged but that's a pretty hefty weight to put on your own shoulders. Anyone who gets a check from the content industry (and I think that's everyone in DC) is going to blacklist you. Do you see yourself taking a Ralph Nader-like approach to politics? How do you even get your foot back in the door? You do realize that if you don't return or rise to another kind of constituent-focused power that your above encouragement will fall upon deaf ears as you will become the example of what happens to an outspoken staffer?

Hope? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42896809)

How do we Americans manage to retain any hope for any sort of positive change when people who are paid to identify beneficial reforms get fired for upsetting special interests? Doesn't your case prove that it's impossible to effect reform through the system? Do you belive that Democracy in America still exists, and if so, why?

Re:Hope? (1, Offtopic)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#42897049)

Democracy in America is healthy and functioning as designed. The question should be, whether democracy is beneficial for America.

Re:Hope? (1, Offtopic)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42897129)

I agree that the system is working as designed. I disagree that it resembles anything even slighly related to Democracy. We can't even honestly claim to be a Constitutional Republic anymore.

Re:Hope? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#42897603)

Regardless of the money involved, we still have the option to vote different people into office. That we don't use that option is no fault of the system. The weakness is in the voter.

Re:Hope? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#42898259)

Sorry, the US electoral system is a system. And systems have mathematical properties. Properties like Duverger's law and the median voter theorem. These unavoidable complications bias our electoral system towards entrenched power though no personal fault of the voters.

The purpose of elections is to gauge the will of the people. Elections are tools we use to measure the will of the people. But any tool can malfunction, and any measurement can be biased if it is not calibrated properly. Our system is malfunctioning and the output of elections can not in any way be regarded as the actual will of the people.

Nitpick (0)

necro81 (917438) | about a year ago | (#42896975)

The "law against unlocking cellphones" isn't a law - it is a regulation, a rule set by the Librarian of Congress. This is good, because it is probably easier to change than a law, which requires an act of (a very hostile and deadlocked) congress.

Re:Nitpick (2)

Quila (201335) | about a year ago | (#42899351)

Actually, it is a law, the DMCA prohibits the circumvention necessary to unlock a phone. The law lets the Librarian of Congress make exceptions to this prohibition.

IP law jobs for a new lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42897033)

I hope this question is not outside the scope of permissible questions, and I apologize if it is.

In this difficult job market, do you know, generally or specifically, who is hiring new lawyers for IP law work? For background, I am a new lawyer, recently admitted in Massachusetts and expecting to be admitted in New York soon. I have a strong coursework background in copyright and trademark law and some knowledge of design patent law, but little knowledge of utility patent law, and I believe I lack the credentials to even sit for the patent bar. Politically, I generally identify myself as independent, but on IP law issues, I tend to lean liberal.

How Bad is it, Really? (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#42897075)

So, your story is, essentially, that you stood up for the American People, did the right thing, and got yourself fired as a result.

Exactly how bad is the situation in D.C., really? Is there any useful purpose to our attempts at participating in democracy, or do lobbyists and special interests completely run the show at this point?

Re:How Bad is it, Really? (2)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#42897461)

Rosa Parks was just one person too.... and she ended up being arrested and jailed for what she did. But the action still was very much a catalyst for positive change.

Just because the outcomes for trying to stand up for what is right are bad right now, doesn't mean that it's going to be that way forever.

Hopefully, more people will have the courage to do what this man did. It's not an easy road to travel, but there's hope that future generations can still reap the rewards as long as people are willing to try.

Re:How Bad is it, Really? (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#42903215)

Rosa Parks' civil disobedience action turned out to be effective because there was a lot more than one lone person involved. Ms. Parks was secretary for an NAACP chapter, which mobilized the work of a *lot* of activists to make sure Ms. Parks' arrest wasn't just another "negro arrested, so what?" case. "Just one person" would have been forgotten by history --- the only reason we remember this is because of the large, dedicated, grass-roots activism organization backing her up, turning out tens of thousands for boycotts and marches.

Down the Pipe (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#42897109)

Is there any future legislation that you know of / heard about during your time as a staffer that we, the People, should get a heads-up on? Specifically, anything nefarious regarding things like copyright, patents, digital property and/or privacy, et. al?

3D printing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42897123)

At some point someone besides me is going to start thinking that the plans fed into a 3D printer, to make a useful object, such as might be patented --those plans may be copyright-able. That means there would be an instant disparity between patent lifetimes (17yrs or so, last I heard), and copyright lifetimes (reaching for endlessness). Logically, it might be best if both time spans were the same length, and, to encourage innovative uses, those time spans should be shorter rather than longer. What might you recommend along those lines?

salvage (1)

mandginguero (1435161) | about a year ago | (#42897127)

I too would like to see a major overhaul in our patent system, but I wonder what, if any, aspects of the current system do you think are beneficial and worth preserving, or modifying slightly?

How do you blow off steam? (2)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#42897137)

You deal with issues that must really piss you off. I mean, the reason you're famous is that you got fired - not exactly a happy event, and you have to relive it in every interview. How do you deal with that? Have you developed a zen about the situation yet, or are you still angry? How do you deal with the stress and anger? Do you meditate, go running, hit a punching bag, or what?

Re:How do you blow off steam? (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year ago | (#42957671)

Do you meditate, go running, hit a punching bag, or what?

He'd hit the gay strip clubs but he's no longer a Republican... :p

Former UMRC Member (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42897407)

Derek,
Do you think that people will eventually catch on to your pattern of breaking the rules just to get attention and make yourself look good? When you set Mr. Deflumeri up to get arrested back in college, nobody noticed. This one is a bit bigger than that, and it backfired. After all the things you've done, aren't you worried that you have burned all your bridges?

Posting as an AC because I know Derek personally and I have seen what he does to his enemies.

Lawmakers becoming Obsolete (2)

SinisterRainbow (2572075) | about a year ago | (#42897409)

The United States was founded as Republic, primarily (so it is said) because having individual voices was impossible with the technology of the time. However, we live in an age where the Internet has given us instant communication and access to vast information, where we can relatively securely pass information around, and where especially, we can have every voice heard to write our own bills and laws. Iceland may be small, but they have proven it's more than just a theory. We have open source books, open source software, open encyclopedia, with more 'open' type projects all the time - which have proved immensely successful and very efficient when it comes to money. However, the trend is in the opposite direction, with more power given to lawmakers and large corporations (in the de facto sense at least as contributions are now unlimited, it raises the bar of entry), and congress with it's two main parties, are in a huge poker match. What do you see as the pros and cons against an open-Bill type of system, where the power of the people get a more realistic voice, where the history can be saved for eternity, where the slightest changes can all be remembered using repositories, where anyone can contribute, where it would save multi-millions of dollars in taxes, where multiple types of Bills can be presented and the one the people wish for most receives the most votes? You have represented a party that claims they stand for smaller government, yet it's one that has increased government size as much and many times, more than democrats. Shouldn't such a system be at the forefront of Republican agenda? Or has big business lined the pockets so fat of every member in congress that this is not possible without some type of revolution..?

Re:Lawmakers becoming Obsolete (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#42898271)

No – the founders were very afraid of Democracy, because Democracy was equated to mob rule – where the rabble would pass laws that would benefit them in the short term. They were highly influenced by Plato’s Republic.

I would point to California as an example – where the ballot initiative has gotten out of hand. Ask voters individual questions – limit the raising of taxes, direct increase on spending (education), or indirect increases (3 Strikes vastly increased spending on prisons) and voters will give you a rational answer. Taken collectively and you have inherent contradictions.

What you need is something that integrates all of these choices into coherent packages which the voters can vote on. The First Past the Post has done so – giving voters a center left or center right option – but I feel that system is breaking down. The primaries are not delivering centrist choices. The large congressional districts favor negative and motivating the core. The center is being ignored.

Re:Lawmakers becoming Obsolete (1)

SinisterRainbow (2572075) | about a year ago | (#42905137)

They were also inspired by John Stuart Mill and other great political thinkers/philosophers. I don't think afraid of democracy applies as much today (try getting enough people to give a crap to get worried). What is far more worrisome is corruption and ignoring issues that politicians indefinitely throw on the backburner (patent system, science), or things that are good for the nation, are not good for either political party. While many of these philosophies still hold, new ones have emerged along with scientific data (like you pointed out soundly about voters and contradictions).. For example, a clear system of better quality voting is by ranking all candidates rather than be forced to make a single is almost unarguably a better system, and (may) reduce polarization somewhat. But if you are democrat or republican, you wouldn't want because, while being a more fair system, it in effect decreases your party's power.

Re:Lawmakers becoming Obsolete (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year ago | (#42898999)

Actually it was more so that the rules of the majority couldn't railroad the minority. It was thought that a professional 3rd party could weigh the needs of both sides and come to a fairer decision. With the caveat that it centralizes the corruption point.

Law to guide vs. forbid (2)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about a year ago | (#42897513)

One complaint conservatives about liberals is that they tend to try to outlaw stuff reactively. The EPA comes to mind, forbidding property owners certain uses of their land.

How can government encourage people to do the right thing without outlawing the wrong thing? How can the government "Speak Softly" but keep the "Big Stick" only when absolutely necessary?

With respect to copyrights, could the government tell people it's wrong to let artists starve, while making it easy to justly compensate them for their work?

Re:Law to guide vs. forbid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42904239)

I'm not sure we're hearing the voice of the artist so much as we are the voice of the companies that claim to speak for artists.

Companies which co-opt the rights of artists in return for providing the artist with things like air time on the media distribution channels of that company's subsidiaries and business partners. Companies which take the lion share of the profits of the artist's labor, and transfer them to various executives, lawyers and lobbyists.

How to change things? (5, Interesting)

JestersGrind (2549938) | about a year ago | (#42897929)

This question is a little broader than just copyright reform, but I'll ask it anyway. Do you have ideas, short of a revolution, on how do the American people can fix the system when the people capable of making change possible are corrupted by corporate lobbyists against any changes? Voting them out isn't even an option because another of the same ilk will just replace the ousted politician.

Democrats and Republicans are both for regulations (1)

Danathar (267989) | about a year ago | (#42897961)

It just depends WHICH regulations depending on WHICH of their friends they want to benefit.

Did RSC state any basis for dismissal? (1)

aguilder (2841435) | about a year ago | (#42898129)

Derek, I am curious whether the RSC gave any reasons for your dismissal? I guess not, as I imagine your employment was "at will".

Balancing of Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42898293)

Sure, there are abusive copyright monopolies, but there are also starving authors. What concrete proposal do you have to eliminate copyright abuses, while still rewarding individual creativity?

Copyright term (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | about a year ago | (#42899409)

Your example copyright term reform (under "Heavily limit the terms for copyright, and create disincentives for renewal") seems only to consider copyright held by corporations. What do you think of separate term limits for copyrights held by individual creators (maybe aligned better with human life expectancy which has greatly increased since 1790) versus those sold by their creator or created as "works for hire"?

Great minds think alike (2)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about a year ago | (#42900125)

I had not previously read Derek's policy brief, but I googled for it (RSC link did not load) and was gratified to see that it corresponds to my thinking, per my /. post last week:

Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, known as the Copyright Clause, empowers the United States Congress:

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

The fact that the Constitution explicitly carves out this Congressional power, implies that there is no inherent right to intellectual "property", equivalent to ownership of tangible property. The aim is to "promote progress..." for the nation as a whole. Any legislation should be calibrated to maximize this benefit to society. This is not the same as maximizing the benefits to the authors and inventors. So the definition of "limited times" should be optimized to this objective of maximum benefit to the nation. Too short, and there is insufficient incentive. Too long, and the benefit to society is lost. I believe current patent and copyright durations are much too long and some objective rigor is needed to find the optimum times. Note that one-size-fits-all is not appropriate, and that different durations may be appropriate for different technologies and industries.

Also, the definition of "writings and discoveries" should be much more narrowly defined. Round or square corners on a phone is no benefit to anyone. Reprinting Shakespeare does not entitle you to copyright.

Re:Great minds think alike (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about a year ago | (#42900339)

And here is another, from December:

We are in the middle of a huge, global experiment. One the one side we have the American model of almost infinite copyright, fiercely defended by the RIAA and MPAA middlemen, who load on extra costs while a pittance goes to the artists – see http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-08-27/entertainment/bs-ae-sugarman-film-20120824_1_strydom-royalty-checks-music-industry [baltimoresun.com] for an example.

On the other side, we have the rest of the world, where copyright does not exist or cannot be practically enforced. Where people in the industry really have to hustle and be creative to make a dime.

Which paradigm will prevail? My bet is on the open, crowd-sourced concept. A Korean Psy going Gangnam will become the mainstream (how many DCMA takedowns has he issued?) and the locked-down Americans will fade to obscurity. Your children are going to grow up listening to world music and watching Bollywood for this reason. The Beatles will pass them by because Apple and Apple took so long to come to their senses.

Re:Great minds think alike (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about a year ago | (#42901077)

And more than a year ago:

Assuming (big assumption) that Congress seeks to maximize "the Progress of Science and useful Arts", then the optimal "limited Times" must be determined, to seek a balance between rewards for authors and inventors, and benefit to society.

One week of copyright is not much incentive to an author. 100 years is not much benefit to society. I think 14 years is about the optimum, but have no data to prove this. However, it cannot be too difficult to determine the optimum, at least to within 5 years.

The current situation is primarily for the benefit of the authors, with promotion of progress only a secondary by-product. As such, current copyright law is unconstitutional.

Re:Great minds think alike (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about a year ago | (#42901893)

My posting from nearly four years ago:

To quote the Constitution: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

What does "limited Times" mean? We can agree that one day is insufficient to be an incentive. We can also agree that infinity is too long to promote progress.

Therefore, it stands to reason that there is some optimal duration, which both maximizes the rewards for both the inventors, and society at large.

Has any research been done to determine this optimum? Is current legislation based on anything other than what lobbyists can buy for their clients?

Would you do it the exact same way again? (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year ago | (#42901851)

Hindsight being on the order of 20/15 or so, would you make the same bold statement, or, knowing the consequences and repercussions, would you be a bit more tactful and attempt to reform the system from within?

The Berne Convention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42902515)

How do you legally go about overcoming the terms of the Berne Convention?

De-legalize corruption? (1)

meimeiriver (1083377) | about a year ago | (#42903197)

Why are IP-rights so out of whack? Because all y'all in the US have allowed a political system in which rich, and even richer, folks can buy legislation. In other parts of the world such a thing would be called outright corruption. Not in America, though. You people have legalized corruption.

And i was downright appalled when I first heard the Department of Homeland Security had seized 77 domain names, because of alleged copyright infringment. Yes, that's right, The Department of Homeland Security, created after 9/11, to keep America safe from terrorist attacks! Yep, the very same DHS, grossly abused by none other than Obama, no less (really wish it had been Bush; but alas) for something as banale as protecting the profit margins of the content industry! What is next? Will you deploy the US Army to protect your IP-rights?! The tragic irony, of course, is that a country so focussed on greed would indeed consider copyright infringement an 'attack' on their nation. Holy cow! Can't you people see how insane things have gotten?!

So, my question to you, Mr. Derek Khanna, is whether you think any form of real progress can be made without limiting (or downright outlawing) the buying of legislation? If not, I fear only a full-blown revolution will be able to turn the tide.

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