Chamber Holds Pep Rally For Internet Domination
Chamber Holds Pep Rally For Internet Domination
Chamber Holds Pep Rally For Internet Domination

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    The Chamber of Commerce tomorrow (Oct. 8) will throw its fifth annual pep rally for control over information. Officially, it’s the “Fifth Annual Intellectual Property Summit.” But given that the speakers all come from the same point of view, the agenda looks to be more of solidifying than educating.

    If there are any doubts about how this group views complex issues, here’s their description of the panel, “Frontiers of Innovation: Protecting IP in the Digital World”:

    “The digital world is emerging as the cornerstone for innovation, with new products, applications, and platforms being launched daily. This new frontier allows the business community endless opportunities to get consumers what they want, how they want it, almost instantaneously. At the same time, the Internet provides seemingly endless opportunities for bad actors to steal intellectual property and deceive, and sometimes harm, consumers. This panel will examine how innovation on the Internet can be fostered while protecting intellectual property more effectively.”

    What do we think the distinguished panelists will have to say about the topic? No semblance of balance here. This is the panel: Rick Cotton, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, NBC Universal; Susan Mann, Senior Director, Intellectual Property Policy, Microsoft; Rick Lane, Senior Vice President Government Affairs, News Corp.; Mark McKinnon, Co-Chairman, Arts+Labs.

    The last name, McKinnon, while a big deal in the world of political consulting, is just the latest in a long line of Hollywood sock puppets. This latest organization, which also boasts former White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry of “Hands Off the Net” (another telephone front group) fame, will be the point of the spear for Hollywood’s newest evil plan for world domination.

    Who’s not on the panel is as important as who is. Apparently, the Chamber only represents one element of the business community. Where are the online companies who base their business models on a free and open Internet? Surely some of them have views that Chamber members would like to hear.

    Look at how the Chamber divides up the world. There is either their business community or “bad actors.” Within the business community, the favored innovations, of course, will come from the good, i.e., favored actors. Hulu, sponsored by NBC and Fox, is good because that’s innovation from within the community. How about innovation from other places, like Vuze, which seeks to distribute licensed content independent of the networks? The attendees won’t hear from them.

    What place do consumers have, other than to receive gratefully the services provided by the networks? To create their own work within the bounds of fair use, incorporating some content from the studios? It would be nice to see how that fits into the agenda.

    While it’s nice to be on guard against theft, deception and harm, so far most of the comments favoring theft, deception and harm are coming from Hollywood. The new Arts + Labs was created to steal consumers’ privacy, deceive us into thinking that Hollywood is on our side, and harm our creativity when we want to use copyrighted content in a legal, but not industry-approved, manner.

    That’s a not-so-nice way of saying the group’s agenda is to find a way to filter the Internet, in cooperation with AT&T, looking for copyrighted content. Hollywood and AT&T aren’t content to let the current mechanisms work, in which questioned content can be taken down after a proper request to an Internet Service Provider (ISP). They want to take matters into their own hands.

    I can hear the pep rally cheer now: 2-4-6-8, the Internet we’ll dominate.

    If you haven’t read Rashmi’s fine explanation of Hollywood’s latest attempt to stifle consumers and innovation by filing suit against Real Networks and its DVD-copying software (even though Real preserves the encryption), by all means do so. This is the latest chapter of a long-running battle in which consumer rights are to be trampled under the control of the big media companies. The suit against Real will surely get a big cheer at the rally. Everyone else won’t be so enthusiastic.