Monday, August 25, 2008

Biden on intellectual property and technology

The more I learn about Joe Biden, the more I see what a stereotypical politician he is. CNET has a piece on Biden's voting record, in which we find out that Biden's been a reliable lackey of the music industry lobbyists. He's urged the Justice Department itself to go after file sharers (as opposed to the music industry footing the court costs), supported legislation making life difficult for internet and satellite radio broadcasters, and was one of four senators invited by the RIAA to its "champagne reception in celebration of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act." In fact, we also learn that Biden was a key supporter of legislation that inspired the creation of the encryption software PGP, whose creator said that it was his legislation "that led me to publish PGP electronically for free that year." On P2P networks he has also shown himself to be a reliable shill, having held hearings in the Senate on the issue and inviting "the Justice Department, RIAA, MPAA, and Microsoft to speak," but not a single ISP or P2P firm.

On net neutrality he's a little more sane (though I don't for a second think the decision was made on its merits – more likely he was just lobbied by the right people), opting not to prohibit ISPs from discriminating between different types of data. Though rather than opposing the idea because of his faith in consumers to pick ISPs with policies that they demand, he is opposing the measure on the grounds that the threat of legislation is enough to keep companies from picking through consumers' content. The correct response to the question would be to point out that the only company to try to throttle content is Comcast, and that they've experienced a huge backlash and have since stopped, and there are no companies that have chosen to emulate Comcast.

Both of these positions are in opposition to Obama's. Obama has hinted that he he's in favor of copyright reform in favor of lessened IP rights for copyright holders, and he's also come out in favor of mandatory net neutrality legislation.

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