Copyright’s own “revolving door”

revolving_doorHere in Washington we are hardly strangers to the “revolving door,” or the frequent movement of public officials between public regulatory agencies and private corporate enterprises, with several recent examples in both the telecom and finance industries. Copyright is big business and certainly not immune to the practice. Both the U.S. Copyright Office and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative have been subject to staff shifts from public office to private industry. A few recent examples include:

Stanford McCoy

U.S. Trade Representative to MPAA International Division

In April, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and its international division (MPA) announced the appointment of Stanford McCoy as Senior Vice President and Regional Policy Director of MPA Europe, Middle East, and Africa (pdf). McCoy leaves his position as Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, where he was instrumental in negotiating the terms of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The motion picture industry is a particularly vocal supporter of increasingly restrictive copyright laws and policies, even in meetings for seemingly unrelated treaties.

Steven M. Tepp

U.S. Copyright Office to U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Tepp served as senior counsel for Policy and International Affairs at the U.S. Copyright Office until 2010, when he joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as chief intellectual property counsel for the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC). He is opposed to attempts to ease statutory damages for alleged copyright infringement, writing that such damages are “a long-standing aspect of U.S. law and the product of over two centuries of collective wisdom” (pdf). Tepp also worked extensively on drafting and negotiating the terms of ACTA.

David O. Carson

U.S. Copyright Office to IFPI

Carson served as General Counsel for the U.S. Copyright Office until 2012, when he joined the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) as head of global policy. The IFPI has a long history of advocating for aggressive copyright protections at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaty negotiations, with particularly notable instances in 1961, 1971, and 1996.

Bonus: Retired but still active in copyright law and policy

Ralph Oman & Marybeth Peters

U.S. Copyright Office

As TechDirt’s Mike Masnick notes, “Between Ralph Oman and Marybeth Peters, they ran the Copyright Office from 1985 all the way up until 2010.” Though both are retired from public service, they teamed up in 2012 to file an amicus brief in support of university presses suing George State University over its e-reserves policy and practice. Oman and Peters object to the court’s consideration of Georgia State as a nonprofit educational institution when performing the four-factor test in determining Fair Use (the “nature of the use” factor, specifically). This position is hardly surprising given the increasingly restrictive policies adopted during the Copyright Office tenure of both Peters and Oman.

About Abby Lull

Abby Lull is a Research Associate for the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy. As part of the OITP Fellows Program, she works on copyright and licensing issues, as well as other aspects of the OITP portfolio. Abby is a recent Master’s graduate of the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, where she concentrated on copyright and intellectual property issues in information access and management.

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