Joe Biden: Carrying water for Hollywood?

Is Joe Biden the copyright industry's point man in the Obama Administration? He certainly has an anti-piracy track record.

Is Joe Biden the copyright industry's point man in the Obama Administration? He certainly has an anti-piracy track record. And the Justice Department is now lousy with RIAA lawyers, as Tiny Mix Tapes points out.

  • Thomas Perrelli, nominated as Associate Attorney General on January 5, confirmed March 12. Perrelli’s position is second-in-command in the DoJ, behind Attorney General Eric Holder. He was one of the leading RIAA lawyers on file-sharing DMCA cases. In one case, he argued for the release of ISP customer information without a subpoena.
  • Donald Verrilli, nominated as Associated Deputy Attorney General on Feburary 4. Verrilli’s position is third-in-command in the DoJ, behind Perrelli. He was the chief RIAA attorney in Jammie Thomas case of last year, which was won by the RIAA before being declared a mistrial.
  • Brian Hauck, appointed as Counsel to the AAG in February 4. Hauck’s position is to serve as Perrelli’s lawyer. He represented the RIAA in the historic Supreme Court case MGM Studios v. Grokster in 2005, won by the industry. He also donated a combined $1500 to the Obama campaign in 2007 and 2008.
  • Ginger Anders, appointed as Assistant to Solicitor General Elena Kagan in March. The Solicitor General represents the government in Supreme Court cases. Anders was one of the litigators in last year’s Cablevision case, which the content industry intended to block the cable company from allowing it to store customers’ recorded programs on its servers.
  • Ian Gershengorn, appointed Deputy Assistant Attorney of the Civil Division of the DoJ on April 13. Gershengorn’s position entails overseeing the Federal Programs Branch, which recently announced support for $150,000 monetary damages for pirated files during a copyright case. He also represented the RIAA in the MGM Studios v. Grokster case.

The result is a decidedly pro-copyright shift from Obama's campaign position, which was strongly influenced by Web 2.0 thinkers like Larry Lessig. Since then things have "massively shifted," Tiny Mix Tapes says. It was quite extraordinary that the Justice Dept. weighed in on the Tenenbaum case. And the Obama Administration has steadfastly refused to provide information on ACTA.

It is quite ironic that, despite his reliance on Hollywood, Obama was endorsed by many supporters of more tech-friendly copyright policy, including Google, Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig, the EFF, and even the American wing of Sweden’s Pirate Party. They hoped that his somewhat neutral stance on copyright would ease to a more reasonable copyright policy. Apparently, they had forgotten about Joe Biden and how Vice Presidents can wield unlikely power.