It’s no news that Washington’s weather forecast calls for winds of change, whether in the form of "change we can believe in " or a pair of self-described mavericks. For at least one change, however, we won’t be waiting until November. President Bush has just signed the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act, a.k.a. the PRO-IP Act. Among other provisions intended to enhance IP law enforcement at home and abroad, the law creates a cabinet-level Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, more (or less) popularly known as the "Copyright Czar."
While RIAA has no doubt joined other business proponents of the PRO-IP Act in dancing to its infinite playlist this evening, some public advocacy groups are bemoaning their latest defeat.
But wait — things are not always as they seem.
Since the Copyright Czar must be confirmed by the Senate, the first appointment to the position will probably not be made by the lamest of Presidential ducks but by the new guy. And if that new guy turns out to be Obama, it stands to reason that he would turn to his intellectual property and technology advisors, including his former University of Chicago colleague Larry Lessig, for advice. Given Lessig’s longstanding opposition to expansion of intellectual property protection — including recent editorializing — the successful advocates of the PRO-IP Act may end up with less than they lobbied for.
Though I seriously doubt that they’ll get a refund.