Soon, major ISPs will be rolling out a “copyright education” program intended to deter infringement. The program, colloquially called “six strikes,” was negotiated between ISPs and the content industries – most notably the RIAA and MPAA. In addition, however, the Obama administration was heavily involved in the negotiations – primarily, it appears, on the side of the content industries.
Researcher Chris Soghoian and I want to find out how involved the Obama administration was. So, Chris filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Office of Management and Budget (within which the new Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, or IP czar, is located). He got back some documents, but OMB withheld some – notably, drafts of the agreement that had been provided by the RIAA, and also discussions about the negotiations within OMB. In short, OMB kept the good stuff.
So we sued. The case is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson in federal court in the District of Columbia. The parties have submitted motions for summary judgment, and the matter is now before Judge Jackson.
This case has critical implications for IP policymaking, for governmental transparency, and for the role of government in private negotiations. The documents paint a fascinating picture of collaboration, pressure, and capture. (An e-mail from the IPEC’s office makes a point of marking an MPAA official’s birthday; an NBC Universal executive e-mails IPEC Victoria Espinel at her private Gmail address.) I’m linking to the documents here in case anyone is curious:
We filed a motion to submit a reply to the OMB’s discovery response, which was denied by the district court. But, I’m including it here to help you understand our position.