Copyright czar cozied up to Big Content, e-mails show.
Top-ranking Obama administration officials, including the US copyright czar, played an active role in secret negotiations between Hollywood, the recording industry and ISPs to disrupt internet access for users suspected of violating copyright law, according to internal White House e-mails.
The e-mails, obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, (.pdf) show the administration’s cozy relationship with Hollywood and the music industry’s lobbying arms, and its early support for the copyright-violation crackdown system publicly announced in July.
One top official even used her personal e-mail account at least once during the negotiations with executives and lobbyists from companies ranging from AT&T to Universal Music. . .
The e-mails do not entail much detail of the discussions between the administration and industry—as any substantive text in the e-mails (PDF) was blacked out before being released to Soghoian.
But the communications show that a wide range of officials—from Vice President Joe Biden’s deputy chief of staff Alan Hoffman, the Justice Department’s criminal chief Lanny Breuer (emphasis supplied, MBV) to copyright czar Victoria Espinel—were in the loop well ahead of the accord’s unveiling.
“These kind of backroom voluntary deals are quite scary, particularly because they are not subject to judicial review. I wanted to find out what role the White House has played in the negotiation, but unfortunately, the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) withheld key documents that would shed further light on it,” Soghoian said when asked why he sought the documents. He is appealing to OMB to disclose more e-mails.
The e-mails, some of which had the subject line “counteroffer,” show off what seems to be a cordial and friendly two-way relationship between industry and the administration.