Joho the Blog » An open letter to Rep. Joe Kennedy on seizing the copyright initiative

An open letter to Rep. Joe Kennedy on seizing the copyright initiative

Dear Joe,

Congratulations on your victory! I’m proud to have you as our new Congressperson from the 12th district here in Brookline and environs. Barney Frank has left you some big shoes to fill, and I’m looking forward to watching you lace up.

Barney did a great job representing our local interests. But our district, and our Commonwealth, has always looked beyond what’s good for us locals. We’ve always had an eye out for the larger common good. That’s why we keep electing Kennedys.

An issue has arisen that not only needs your support, but could help you make exactly the right kind of early mark. Forgive me if you are already on top of it, but, briefly, the Republican Study Committee on Friday issued a report on copyright reform that was — from the point of view of many of us on the Web — shockingly helpful. I say “shockingly” because Congress overall has been woefully one-sided and antiquarian on the question of copyright, taking laws designed for previous centuries and actually making them far worse.

That was Friday. By Saturday afternoon, the Hollywood lobbyists had forced Paul Teller, the head of the RSC, to withdraw the report on the specious grounds that it had not gone through “adequate review.” If so, perhaps Paul Teller should resign. But, I’m willing to bet 10,000 RomneyBucks that instead the young author of the report, Derek Khanna [twitter:dkhanna11], will take the fall.

Anyway, the report punctures three myths about copyright, and proposes four areas of reform:

  • Statutory damages reform

  • Expand Fair Use

  • Punish false copyright claims

  • Heavily limit the terms for copyright, and create disincentives for renewal

I urge you to take a look. Imagine a world with copyright reformed in this way. And if you think the proposals are wrong-headed, impractical, or whatever, at least embrace them as a starting point for a conversation this country very much needs.

This could be a great issue for you, Joe. You’ll find a whole lot of constituents who would be thrilled to see you take a leadership role in this important discussion.

And it won’t just be your constituents. You’ll find yourself surfing a wave — the Internet constituency that represents the future of our party, nation, and globe.

Looking forward to seeing you show the bold leadership your family is famous for and that has so many of us excited about your first term in Congress — the first of many, we hope!


David Weinberger

Note: The original report was here, but people have put up extra copies in case the RSC physically removes the report from the Web. Here’s the copy I posted.

12 Responses to “An open letter to Rep. Joe Kennedy on seizing the copyright initiative”

  1. Good luck.

    Still not sure whether the memo was strategically broached in the knowledge it would be retracted (to encourage some cartel sponsorship or penalise the lack of it), or whether it truly was consideration of something that might capture the popular imagination (that the cartel knows it would).

    Either way, let’s hope the Streisand effect helps prevents it being unpublished – making it a mistake if strategic, or foiling the cartel if not.

  2. Well, I’m in Markey’s district, but I happily cosign — as, I expect, would quite a lot of his Somerville/Cambridge constituents. Let’s ship ‘em all your letter.

  3. writing is essential in transformin our societies ,so please do your best to keep your readers adrift.

  4. i love the way you respond to issues keeep your eyes focussed for those intrested.

  5. [...] industry’s goal is soley to “protect the value of content.” That’s what the copyright wars are over. That is what is beginning to scare [...]

  6. [...] say that his industry’s goal is soley to “protect the value of content.” That’s what the copyright wars are over. That is what is beginning to scare [...]

  7. Derek Khanna, the one who wrote the report said “I didn’t retract anything – I wrote it – and I stand by it.” It was not his idea to have it pulled. He, at least, seems very much interested in changing the copyright landscape.

  8. am pretty sure Khanna will be looking for another job in the very near future. even if he does get the bullet, he will be severely restricted in what he is allowed to do from now on.
    there isn’t, i doubt, one Congressman/woman or even one politician that will take this challenge on in a serious way. given the speed and the bull s**t reason for which the original report was pulled, it indicates to me that the person concerned is more worried about pleasing the entertainment industries than doing the job for which he was elected. surely, is the whole purpose of the Khanna report was to bring to the fore not only the ridiculousness of present copyright but also the influence the industries have on how copyright is in their favour and completely against the public and the reasons copyright was introduced originally

  9. [...] David Weinberger published an open letter to his newly elected Representative Joe Kennedy III (D-Massachusetts) urging him to support the copyright reform issue in order to “make the right kind of early mark.” [...]

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