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US copyright official caught too close to media industry

updated 07:30 pm EDT, Fri October 14, 2011

E-mails tie copyright officials to RIAA deal

E-mails made available thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (pdf) and unearthed by Wired reveal high-ranking Obama administration officials were actively involved in secret negotiations between Hollywood, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and ISPs. The three sides were found collaborating on plans to disrupt web access for users who are suspected of violating copyright law. The e-mails included executives and lobbyists from the likes of companies like AT&T and Universal Music, among many others.

The e-mails were used to forge a three-strike agreement between ISPs such as AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon that would punish illegal downloaders of copyrighted content. The ISPs would reduce Internet speeds and redirect subscribers to a web page that aims to educate them on what they're doing.

Though much of the text in the e-mails was blacked out, they still include names such as Alan Hoffman, who is VP Joe Biden's deputy chief of staff, DOJ criminal chief Lanny Breuer and copyright proponent Victoria Espinel.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), who provided Espinel's e-mail address, argued she's just doing her job by conversing with the ISP reps and others.

"In order to effectively serve as the intellectual property enforcement coordinator, Espinel communicates with a wide range of federal, state and local officials, with Congress, and with a wide variety of stakeholders including consumer and public interest advocates, labor unions, academics, and the private sector," read the official response. "The office has effectively brought diverse groups together to discuss voluntary actions to reduce intellectual property theft that costs American jobs, hurts the nation's economy and in some cases threatens the health and safety of the American public."







By Electronista Staff
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